We know exercise is beneficial to our physical, mental, and emotional health, but many of us still have questions about the effectiveness of our workout routines. Specifically we wonder, “What type of exercise should I do to get the benefits, and how long do I have to do it for?”
If you’re not a fan of spending hours at the gym or in a workout class, we have some good news for you. A new study published in the European Society of Cardiology found that moving more daily, in any capacity, is linked with greater longevity—irrespective of your age, sex, and level of fitness.
Researchers looked at the cardiorespiratory fitness of around 300,000 adults between the ages of 18 and 74 and found that their risk of death and cardiovascular disease decreased as their fitness increased. Pretty incredible, right?
Specifically, for each milliliter increase in VO2 max (a measure of cardiorespiratory fitness), the risk of death and CVD decreased on average 3 percent.
The best part? Participants didn’t have to pound weights or run a marathon to reap these benefits. Even small increases in movement, like getting off the subway a stop earlier or biking to work, was enough to improve their overall health.
“It is particularly important to note that an increase in fitness was beneficial, regardless of the starting point,” said study author Ekblom-Bak of the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences in Stockholm. This means that regardless of where you’re starting out—whether you move a little or move a lot—your risk of disease can decrease if you add more movement into your day.
The researchers suggest that doctors start assessing patients’ fitness during health checkups and, if necessary, encouraging them to move their bodies more. And if you’re a patient, you can definitely ask your doctor for this kind of evaluation and for their advice.
In the meantime, we should all look for more ways to incorporate movement into our daily routines. Maybe take the long route on the walk home from work, or opt for the stairs instead of the elevator—because even a little extra movement a day could go a long way for your health.