- More weekly physical activity results in lower risks of developing breast and bowel cancer, diabetes, heart diseases, and ischemic strokes, according to a study published in The BMJ on Tuesday.
- Housework, gardening, walking, and cycling were some of the examples the researchers gave for physical activities. However, the exact extent to which the type of activity or the amount of time dedicated reduces risk are unknown.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends individuals engage in physical activity for a cumulative total of at least 600 metabolic equivalents minutes each week.
As the country's population ages and the cost of some chronic conditions continues to increase, health organizations have set out to better encourage physical activity by providing research-based evidence on the benefits it provides.
Out of the $3 trillion the country spends on healthcare each year, 31% of costs is related to "behaviorally influenced chronic conditions," according to a McKinsey & Company report.
The leading cause of death in the U.S. - cardiac diseases - has been getting some attention in recent months with CMS recently proposing to create bundled payments for cardiac care.
The research team in The BMJ's new study examined the conclusions of 174 studies on the relationship between physical activity and no less than one of the five chronic diseases analyzed. "Most health gains occurred at a total activity level of 3,000-4,000 MET minutes a week, with diminishing returns at higher activity levels," the study authors concluded. The findings suggest the amount of daily activity should be higher than the minimum levels recommended by the WHO in order to reduce risk, the authors noted.
Yet more research is needed to understand the studied association. Researchers at the University of Strathclyde and the International Prevention Research Institute in Lyon, France noted in an editorial also published in The BMJ that the study “cannot tell us whether risk reductions would be different with short duration intense physical activity or longer duration light physical activity.”