It’s official: If you want a longer life, you need to get moving.
A recent study published in the journal The Lancet found that the minimum amount of exercise you need to increase your longevity is approximately 150 minutes per week. The research also showed that everyday activities ― like cleaning your room and biking to work ― are just as beneficial as organized workouts when it comes to meeting that goal.
A team of researchers surveyed people between ages 35 and 70 about their physical activity in order to reach the results. Between 2003 and 2010, more than 140,000 participants in 17 countries completed a one-time questionnaire about how many minutes they had spent being active in the past week. Researchers then checked in with participants on the state of their health for about six to nine years after they took the survey.
Ultimately, people who regularly exercised at least 150 minutes per week had a 28 percent lower risk of death overall and a 20 percent lower risk of heart disease. People who exercised significantly more than that (at least 750 minutes per week) had an additional 20 percent lower risk of death. The results fall in line with the World Health Organization’s recommendations, which is for people to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week to improve fitness and decrease mortality risk.
The authors noted that, while most studies survey high-income countries where exercise is recreational (like a spin class), this study also included low-income and middle-income countries where exercise more often comes as a part of daily life (like biking to work). The results showed that it doesn’t matter what kind of exercise you do. Walking, housework and having an active job can all give you a longer life as long as you’re reaching those 150 minutes.
“The main takeaway is that any type of activity is good for us,” study author Scott Lear, who leads cardiovascular research at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, Canada, told HuffPost. “It doesn’t matter how we label it, our body sees it the same way… Going for a walk can be just as good as spending an hour gardening or cutting the grass.”
Group fitness trainer Josh Carter also wants to dispel the notion that exercise has to be hard or expensive in order to be effective.
“Movement is movement,” Carter, the owner of Fit Body Boot Camp, told HuffPost. “It doesn’t necessarily need to be hard or re-organize your life. I tell people to just get up 30 minutes earlier and go for a walk if they want to get started. Take the stairs or park far away. It’s two minutes here and five minutes there, but it all adds up.”
Looking for some ways to sneak in some fitness so you hit those 150 minutes per week? Here are some inexpensive options you can try:
Go for a walk instead of a coffee break.
Instead of hitting Starbucks, “most of my employees use their 15-minute breaks to go for a walk around the parking lot,” Carter said. “They talk, they laugh, whatever. Just get your blood pumping.”
Cut your Netflix time in half.
Think of what could happen if you, say, took a brisk walk instead of watching that second “Game of Thrones” episode tonight.
“If people start paying half as much attention to their health as they do to a Netflix marathon ― literally half ― it pays off,” Carter said.
Walk, bike or run to your next event.
The study lists “active transportation” as one of the main ways its healthy participants unintentionally exercised their way to a longer life. Walking to the subway and climbing its stairs counts here. So does running to work or biking to the grocery store.
Get a workout buddy.
Many of us would be more inclined to practice yoga or go for a run if it were framed as a social hangout. So grab a partner, and lengthen your lives together. Your bodies and minds will thank you.