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This exercise routine can cut your risk of death in half

A recent international study has shed light on the specific exercise routines linked to significantly reduced mortality rates. 

This research, spanning across four nations and delving into the health habits of half a million Americans, unveils a precise workout regimen that could potentially cut one’s risk of premature death in half.

Focus of the study

The team of researchers from Spain, Australia, Canada, and Denmark meticulously examined medical records and survey responses of healthy Americans aged 18 and above. 

The experts analyzed data and death records to determine the optimal time and type of exercise that would reduce the risk of mortality from various causes.

The perfect workout

The researchers discovered that a blend of moderate to intense cardiovascular activities, complemented by weight training, may be the perfect workout routine. 

This weekly routine includes one hour and 15 minutes of moderate activities like brisk walking, a minimum of two and a half hours of more intense exercises such as running or swimming, and at least two sessions dedicated to muscle-strengthening activities like weightlifting. 

Remarkably this regimen was associated with a 50 percent lower risk of death from any cause.

However, the researchers emphasize that any physical activity, even in smaller doses, is vastly superior to a sedentary lifestyle. They pointed to a recent study which revealed that a brisk 11-minute daily walk could cut early death risks by nearly a quarter.

How the research was conducted 

This groundbreaking study hinged on data sourced from 22 iterations of the US National Health Interview Survey, spanning from 1997 to 2018. 

The survey’s participants, predominantly female and white, had an average age of 46. After analyzing their exercise patterns, the researchers compared this data with the causes of their deaths. 

Those with conditions such as cancer, heart disease, lung disease, and stroke, or those who passed away within the initial two years of the survey’s follow-up, were intentionally excluded from the analysis.

The researchers split physical activity regimens into 48 categories, including every conceivable blend of moderate aerobic, vigorous aerobic, and muscle-strengthening exercises. 

Greatest risk reduction

The experts found that the “highest statistically significant risk reduction” was tied to 75 minutes of moderate aerobic activities, over 150 minutes of intense aerobic exercises, and a minimum of two muscle-strengthening sessions weekly.

Interestingly, this challenges the World Health Organization’s current recommendations, which lean towards more moderate exercise and less vigorous activity.

Reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke, and cancer

The experts also discovered exercise patterns tied to specific causes of death. To combat risks from heart disease or stroke, two and a half to almost four hours of moderate exercise, combined with a little over an hour of intense activity and two muscle-strengthening sessions, led to a staggering 70 percent drop in risk. 

Conversely, for cancer-related mortality, more than five hours of moderate exercise, coupled with one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous activity and two muscle-strengthening sessions, reduced the risk by 56 percent.

The research is published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine

Physical activity and mental health 

Physical activity also has a range of benefits for mental health. It is directly related to improved overall well-being.

Mood enhancement

Physical activity releases endorphins, which are natural mood lifters. It can help alleviate feelings of depression and anxiety.

Stress reduction

Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins.

Improved sleep

Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and enjoy deeper sleep. Sleep is crucial for mental well-being.

Boosted self-esteem

Meeting exercise goals or challenges, even small ones, can boost your self-confidence. Getting in shape can also make you feel better about your appearance.

Brain health

Physical activity increases the heart rate, which pumps more oxygen to the brain. It also aids the release of hormones that provide an excellent environment for the growth of brain cells.

Cognitive function

Exercise stimulates the growth of new connections between cells in many important cortical areas of the brain, enhancing memory and cognitive functions.

Reduction in anxiety

The chemicals released during and after exercise can help people with anxiety disorders calm down.

Combat addiction

Exercise can help in addiction recovery. The brain releases dopamine, the “reward chemical,” in response to any form of pleasure, including substance use. However, exercise can help recreate this dopamine “high” in a healthier way.

Increased social interaction 

Joining a fitness group or a gym can provide a social outlet, which can benefit mental well-being.

Meditative aspects

Activities like running or swimming can have a meditative effect on the mind, providing a mental “break” and reducing day-to-day worries.

While physical activity is beneficial for mental health, it’s important to note that individuals with mental health issues should consult with professionals about the most effective treatments. Exercise can complement but not replace traditional forms of therapy or medication in certain cases.


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