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Make activity plentiful and a daily habit, not a chore

A study by University of Queensland researcher Dr Lennert Veerman has concluded that a five-fold increase from current World Health Organization (WHO) exercise recommendations is required to significantly help ward off heart disease and stroke, and reduce the chances of breast and bowel cancer.

Lennert collaborated with researchers from the Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and the University of Washington in Washington state. The findings were published in the British Medical Journal.

Run more, it's not a chore: Dr Lennert Veerman.

Run more, it's not a chore: Dr Lennert Veerman.

The team found that people should be running six hours a week or walking for 15 hours, which is a sharp incline on the three hours of running or power walking WHO advises.

“Although the first minutes of activity do most for health, our research results suggest activity needs to be several times higher than current WHO recommendations to achieve larger reductions in risks of these diseases,” Veerman said. “WHO advises a minimum total physical activity level of 10 metabolic equivalent (MET) hours a week, but the study found health gains accumulated up to levels of 50 to 70 MET-hours a week.

“A lot of previous research had shown the benefits of being physically active, but we still do not definitively know the exact type and quantity of activity that most reduces the risk of common conditions, because it is difficult to accurately measure physical activity.”

Veerman and his colleagues reviewed 174 studies published between 1980 and 2016.

“People may need to incorporate additional daily activity to achieve 50 MET-hours,” he continued. “This could mean being more active at work, doing housework, using stairs where possible, gardening or running, and using active transport such as walking or cycling.

“The trick is to incorporate physical activity into daily life, making it a habit rather than a chore.”

To that end, Veerman called on councils to encourage an active lifestyle when planning. “Our urban environments also need to change: walking and cycling need to be made safe and convenient," he said.

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