Walking 35 minutes a day can save your life

Updated: Apr 2

Since the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic, we have all started working online, staying indoors and giving up on exercise in the fresh air. Low levels of physical activity and long periods of time stuck at a desk or on the couch are associated with higher risks of morbidity and mortality. According to a recent study, only 11 minutes per day of exercise in combination with “low” sedentary time of less than 8.5 hours per day may reduce the risk of death. And walking 35 minutes per day has a marked impact on extending life expectancy.

United Kingdom: 2 December 2020

According to the New York Times, recent surveys on people’s behaviour since the start of the Pandemic indicate that a majority of people are exercising less and sitting more than a year ago. There will be long-term health consequences from the slowdown in physical activity due to the various lockdowns and restrictions in effect.

The New York Times raises a question: “How active should an active person be if he or she hopes to mitigate the downsides of sitting?”

Here are some answers:

  • A 2016 Study involving more than a million people found that men and women needed to exercise moderately for about 60 to 75 minutes a day in order to diminish the undesirable effects of sitting.

  • This research found out that people in the middle third for activity, who exercised moderately for about 11 minutes a day, were significantly less likely to have died prematurely than people who moved less, even if all of them belonged to the group that also sat the most.

  • The researchers concluded that the sweet spot for physical activity and longevity seemed to arrive at about 35 minutes a day of brisk walking or other moderate activities, an amount that led to the greatest statistical improvement in life span, no matter how many hours someone sat.

  • The findings of the Study show that about 30- 40 min of moderate- to vigorous physical activity per day attenuate the association between sedentary time and risk of death.

Our conclusions:

  • Sit less, walk more.

  • If you can’t exercise, try to walk quickly for at least 11 minutes per day. We can all find time in our schedules to do that.

  • If you can, make a habit of walking 35-40 minutes per day. This is the best option for life span improvement and other beneficial impacts.

How have we been coping with COVID? By adapting:

  • Since cafes in most countries have been closed, pick up a cup of take-away coffee and hold your business meeting walking in a park or a nice part of where you live. There is no reason to sit at a café table when we are sitting at work or at home all day.

  • If you have internal meetings with co-workers, schedule at least one meeting in a park or outdoor area where you can walk, breathe fresh air, and talk. It is important not only for your physical health, but also to maintain contact with actual human beings if you are on lockdown.

  • Aim for a walk after finishing work, and before getting home (or staying at home). Taking even just 30 minutes to walk between work and the rest of the day gives you an incentive to finish work productively, close your computer, and put some mental space between your work and personal life.

Stay fit and healthy!


Joint associations of accelero-meter measured physical activity and sedentary time with all-cause mortality: a harmonised meta-analysis in more than 44 000 middle-aged and older individuals

British Journal of Sports Medicine. December 2020

11 Minutes of Exercise a Day May Help Counter the Effects of Sitting

The New York Times. 2 December 2020

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