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Walking for Just 11 Minutes a Day Can Help You Live Longer, New Research Shows

It adds years to your life with minimal effort.

Though there are certainly factors outside of your control, your best bet when it comes to living longer is to exert influence where you can by laying a foundation of wellness. As many doctors will tell you, this means eating well, getting adequate sleep, and of course, exercising. If that all sounds like a far cry from your current habits, don't worry—there's some good news. Recent research suggests that partaking in even minimal exercise—just 11 minutes of walking per day—can have a groundbreaking effect on your health and longevity.

RELATED: Walking for Just 2 Minutes Can Improve Your Health—If You Do It at the Right Time of Day.

By committing to a short daily stroll, you can slash your risk of cardiovascular episodes, certain types of cancer, and several other leading causes of death—which is extremely important since, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), over two million deaths are directly attributed to a lack of physical activity every year. The organization warns that this could place leading a sedentary lifestyle among the top 10 causes of death and disability in the world.

"Sedentary lifestyles increase all causes of mortality, double the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and obesity, and increase the risks of colon cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, lipid disorders, depression and anxiety," the health authority writes. "Sixty to 85 percent of people in the world—from both developed and developing countries—lead sedentary lifestyles, making it one of the more serious yet insufficiently addressed public health problems of our time."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends aiming for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week. According to recent research on American fitness habits, less than half of the U.S. population—47 percent—currently meets this recommendation. Just 24 percent of American adults meet the guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity, the CDC says.

Now, a comprehensive new study conducted by researchers at the University of Cambridge and published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine has found that even minimal exercise can have a profound impact on your health, compared with a lifestyle of inactivity. This meta-analysis of data from over 30 million Americans—the largest in history on the subject of fitness, disease risk, and premature death—found that walking for just 11 minutes per day can lower your risk of premature death by 25 percent.

In fact, the findings indicate that one in 10 deaths could be avoided if sedentary individuals committed to that minimal amount of daily exercise. This is roughly equivalent to 75 minutes of weekly exercise, or half of what the CDC recommends.

The recent study underscores just how profound it can be for your health and longevity to add even minimal exercise to your routine if you currently do none. However, the benefits grow significantly as you add more movement.

In fact, separate 2023 research published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found that having a daily step count of just under 4,000 was linked with a reduced risk of dying from any cause. For every additional 1,000 steps taken daily, subjects' risk of premature death was lowered by an additional 15 percent, the researchers wrote.

So, the next time you've got 10 to 15 minutes to spare, lace up those sneakers. There are few activities with a bigger payoff than a little bit of exercise.

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