Doing This for 10 Minutes a Day Can Add Years to Your Life, New Study Says

Adding just 10 minutes of this to your routine cuts your risk of premature death.

Better longevity may sometimes seem beyond your control, but experts say that our everyday decisions are directly related to our chances of a long and healthy life. In fact, a new study has found that there's one thing you can do for just 10 minutes per day which could have a dramatic impact on your physical wellness. The researchers say that if everyone in America did it, we could collectively avert over 100,000 premature deaths per year. Read on to find out which simple activity takes only 10 minutes to do and can help transform your health and lead to a longer life.

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Walking for 10 additional minutes a day can lengthen your life, says a new study.

Senior woman walking in public park
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Researchers have long since established the benefits of exercise on longevity, and most health institutions including the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend getting a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise per week. However, a new 2022 study published in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine which set out to examine the benefits of moderate increases in exercise levels found that adding as little as 10 minutes of walking to your normal routine may translate into lower risk of premature death.

In fact, spread across the U.S. population, the researchers estimate that if every person that was physically able tacked on an extra 10 minutes of walking per day, we could collectively prevent more than 111,000 early deaths each year. This accounts for roughly seven percent of all American deaths in a year, notes The New York Times.

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Here's how the researchers made their discovery.

Looking at data charts
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To reach this conclusion, the research team gathered the health data of 4,840 individuals from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), all of whom had joined the survey between 2003 and 2006 and were between the ages of 40 and 85. They provided some of the survey respondents activity trackers to measure their activity levels, then retroactively grouped the subjects by how many minutes they walked or performed moderate activity on average days. Finally, they checked the participants names against a national death registry to determine the mortality risk associated with different activity levels.

Using this information, they were able to run hypothetical statistical scenarios in which individuals increased or decreased their levels of physical activity, and to estimate the impact of those levels on longevity. Through this process the team determined that over 100,000 American lives would be saved each year from premature death if each person who could do so added 10 minutes of walking per day.

Walking has a range of important health benefits.

Older man getting checked out at the doctor's office
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According to the Mayo Clinic, there are several reasons that walking is good for you. The health authority explains that the activity can improve your cardiovascular fitness, strengthen your bones and muscles, improve endurance, increase energy levels, improve balance and coordination, strengthen the immune system, and reduce stress and tension. Many individuals also use walking as a means to maintain a healthy weight or lose body fat, which can in turn lower one's risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. "Remember it's OK to start slowly—especially if you haven't been exercising regularly," the Mayo Clinic advises. "You might start with five minutes a day the first week, and then increase your time by five minutes each week until you reach at least 30 minutes," the organization's experts recommend.

According to the U.K.'s National Health Services (NHS), you'll gain the most from your walk if you keep a "brisk" pace. "A brisk walk is about three miles an hour, which is faster than a stroll," explains the NHS. "You can tell you're walking briskly if you can still talk but cannot sing the words to a song."

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The more you walk, the greater the benefits.

Senior couple going for a walk
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In fact, while the JAMA study found that adding an additional 10 minutes of walking was enough to make an impact on your health, it also found that the more exercise you add, the greater the benefit. For example, the researchers estimated that if everyone added 20 minutes of walking to their routine each day, we could collectively avoid 209,459 premature deaths per year. Walking for 30 minutes in addition to current activity levels could avert 272,297 premature deaths—roughly 17 percent of total annual deaths in America.

So, if you're looking for a simple way to improve your health, it's time to get moving. Lace up your sneakers and walk your way to wellness and longevity.

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Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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