Spend 30 Minutes a Day for Life to be as Healthy as You Can Be

daily-activity-strategiesWe are all familiar with the old saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” While a healthy diet continues to be important, a more contemporary adage might be, “Thirty minutes a day keeps the doctor away.” Consider the top five diseases in North America: Cancer, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and stroke. The risk for developing each of these diseases is significantly reduced by engaging in 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day. Still not convinced? Let’s look at some data; it’s impressive. With 30 minutes of moderate exercise (3 to 8 MET activities), we can:

  • Reduce the number of deaths from heart disease by 30 percent in this country alone (30 minutes walking 3 to 4 mph).
  • Reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 58 percent for those at high risk.
  • Reduce the risk of stroke by 24 percent walking 2.5 hours per week or by 46 percent by walking 5 hours per week as compared to nonexercisers.
  • Reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer among overweight individuals.
  • Reduce the risk of depression among elderly adults. In elderly adults classified with major depressive disorder, a 50- percent reduction of the disorder occurred after 4 months of an exercise program.
  • Reduce the risk of breast cancer by 20 percent in White and African-American women who regularly exercise at 7 to 15 METs compared to inactive females.
  • Reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
  • Reduce blood pressure and improve overall aerobic fitness and functional capacity.

There is not a less expensive, more universally available prescription for disease management than exercise. Thirty minutes a day is a small price for such radical changes, and you can pay your dues in one bout of 30 minutes, two bouts of 15 minutes, or three bouts of 10 minutes.

Moderate-Intensity (3 to 8 MET) Physical Activities

Not sure what to do? See the table for some examples of moderate activities by MET level. Whatever you do, get up, get moving – run, walk, jump, and play – doctor’s orders!

What’s a MET?

The metabolic equivalent, or MET, estimates the amount of oxygen used during physical activity. One MET is the energy (or oxygen) you use as you sit quietly. The harder you work, the higher the MET.

Activity
Calories Burned in 30 Minutes
150 lbs
190 lbs
MET
Beginning/Intermediate Pilates
125
160
3.5
Light to Moderate Home Exercise
125
125
3.5
Moderate Household Chores
125
160
3.5
Slow Walking 2.5 mph
125
160
3.5
Stationary Bike
251
318
5.0
Advanced Pilates/Mindful Movement
251
318
5.0
Slow Bicycling 10-11.9 mph
215
272
6.0
Brisk Walking 3.5 mph
179
227
5.0
Slow Running 5 mph
287
363
8.0
Gravity Training Class
287
363
8.0

Information provided by the APTA

Pate R, Pratt M, Blair N, Haskell W, Macera C, Bouchard C, Buchner D, Ettinger W, Heath G, King A. Physical Activity and Public Health. A Recommendation from the centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Sports Medicine. JAMA. 1995.273(5):402-407.

Wei M, Kampert JB, Barlow CE, Nichaman MZ, Gibbons LW, Paffenbarger RS, Blair SN. Relationship between low cardiorespiratory fitness and mortality in normal-weight, overweight, and obese men. JAMA. 1999.282(16):1547-53.

Knowler WC, Barrett-Connor E, Fowler SE, Hamman RF, Lachin JM, Walker EA, Nathan DM. Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group. Reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes with lifestyle intervention or meformin. New England Journal of Medicine. 2002.346(6): 393-403.

Manson JE, HU F, Rich-Edwards J, Colditz G, Stampfer J, Willett W, Speizer F, Hennekens C. A prospective Study of Walking as Compared With Vigorous Exercise in the Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease in Women. New England Journal of Medicine. 1999.341(9):650-658.

Hu F, Stampfer M, Colditz G, Ascherio A, Rexrode K, Willett W, Manson J. Physical Activity and Risk of Stroke in Women. JAMA.2000.283(22):2961-2967.

Lee I, Hennekens C, Berger K, Buring J, Manson J. Exercise and Risk of Stroke in Male Physicians. Stroke.1999.30(1):1-6.

Leitzmann M, Rimm E, Willett W, Spiegelman D, Grodstein F, Stampfer M, Coldtiz G, Giovannucci E. Recreational Physical Activity and the Risk of Cholecystectomy in Women. New England Journal of Medicine. 1999.341(11):777-784.

Thune I, Brenn T, Lund E, Gaard M. Physical Activity and the Risk of Breast Cancer. New England Journal of Medicine. 1997. 336(18): 1269-1275.

Strawbridge W, Deleger S, Roberts R. Physical Activity Reduces the Risk of Subsequent Depression for Older Adults. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2002.156(4):328-334.

Tully M, Cupples W, Chan K, McGlade K, Young I. Brisk Walking, Fitness, and Cardiovascular Risk: A Randomized Controlled Trial in Primary Care. Preventive Medicine. 2005.41:622-628.

Bernstein L, Patel A, Ursin G, Sullivan-Halley J, Deapen D, Berlin J, Daling J, McDonald J, Norman S, Malone K, Strom B, Liff J, Folger S, Simon M, Burkman R, Marchbanks P, Weiss L, Spirtas R. Lifetime Recreational Exercise Activity and Breast Cancer Risk Among Black Women and White Women. Journal of National Cancer Institute. 2005.97(22):1671-1679.

Bond B, Perry A, Parker L, Robinson A, Burnett K. Dose-Response Effect of Walking Exercise on Weight Loss. How Much is Enough? International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders.2002.26(11):1484-1493.

There is not a less expensive, more universally available prescription for disease management than exercise.