Daily bouts of exercise correlate with fewer incidents of premature death due to sedentary lifestyles

A man wearing a protective mask takes a brisk walk down a city street.

How much exercise should adults get to offset the risks of sedentary behavior, such as sitting most days? A group of international researchers put this question to the test by analyzing nine studies of 44,000 adults, ages 57-74, and found 30-40 minutes of daily exercise, like brisk walking, dancing, biking, or active playtime with children, did not correlate with the same number of deaths observed in adults who were the least active and most sedentary. The study authors note the findings are comparable to meeting the upper thresholds of the World Health Organization (WHO)’s physical activity guidelines, which includes 150-300 minutes of moderate to intense exercise each week.

To reach these conclusions, the researchers grouped adults from the nine studies into thirds, based on most to least active. After controlling for variables, like age, body weight, and smoking, they reviewed a variety of metrics, including daily movement, sedentary time, and death rates over 4-14 years. They found the half-hour daily exercise patterns correlated with fewer incidents of death for people who spent more than 10.7 hours each day inactive. They found similar correlations with 11 minutes of daily exercise for adults who spent less than 8.5 hours each day inactive. Citing the WHO guidelines, the authors note more movement and less sedentary time is preferred, but any activity is better than none. The meta-analysis was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine and included research from the Framingham Heart Study and the Women’s Health Study, which are supported by the National, Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.