Want to live longer? Just 11 minutes of activity everyday can help: New study

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Exercise Image

There is no doubt that our level of activity has come down drastically in 2020. Increased sitting is a pandemic-driven reality for many thanks to the Zoom meetings, Netflix binges and virtual cocktail hours. And there is no shortage of studies citing the numerous health risks of prolonged sitting.

But don’t worry. We come bearing good news! Despite all the sedentary time, you can increase your lifespan with as little as 11 minutes of activity a day, a new study has found.

Breaking the old thoughts

You might be wondering about the hour-per-day measurement that you’ve been hearing about for years. It’s true; past studies, including a popular study from 2016, had originally put the daily exercise target at 60 to 75 minutes for lifespan benefits. However, that study was based on self-reported data, which this latest study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, found to be flawed due to people misremembering their actual activity levels.

Taking a more objective approach, scientists at the Norwegian School of Sports Medicine based their research on the use of activity monitors to track exercise versus sedentary time. The results showed that participants who exercised 35 minutes per day saw the biggest statistical difference on life span. Yet just 11 minutes of moderate exercise, equivalent to a brisk walk, still had a noticeable positive impact. What’s more, both time frames were positively impactful, regardless of the amount of sitting.

Walk, walk, walk

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While 35 minutes of exercise daily is better for your health, a lower barrier to entry makes it easier to get even the most inactive among us moving and still increasing your lifespan. So, how do you do it?

The simplest way is with a walk outside or on the treadmill at your local gym. Walking is one of the best exercises. With winter weather keeping people inside and COVID-19 regulations limiting access to public gyms, though, more creative, accessible means may be necessary to effectively get in your 11 minutes at home. Below are a few ways to consider.

11 minute exercises to consider

Four rounds of three minutes add up to 12 minutes, but it’s okay as you can handle the extra one minute. Depending on the exercises you use, you may go at a slightly different pace during each round, making it about 11 minutes.

When selecting your exercises, try to pick a sequence of movements that will equate to a full-body workout of moderate effort. For instance, avoid doing only upper-body movements unless you plan to do lower-body movements the next day.

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Ideally, do a combo, like the example below, determining the number of repetitions for each exercise based on your fitness level and maintaining a three-minute sequence for the time frame. You could try a three-minute exercise sequence of:

  • 10 to 25 push-ups
  • 25 to 40 body-weight squats
  • One minute of jogging in place

Yoga is a great way to stay active too

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Yoga can be a great way to get your body moving while also relieving stress and fostering your mind-body connection. If you’ve been practicing yoga for a while, you should be able to unroll your mat, set a timer for 11 minutes and go through some sun salutations or any number of combinations of your favorite yoga poses.

If you’re new to yoga, no worries. A quick search of “11 minutes of yoga” on YouTube offers multiple free options for you to follow along.

Try dancing your heart out

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There are few things as fun and liberating as dancing to your favorite tunes in the comfort of your own home. And when you’re home alone, you don’t have to dance like nobody’s watching; no one really is watching! It’s just you and your jam. It only takes three or four songs to get to your 11-minute threshold, so drop your inhibitions and get your groove on.

If you live in a full house, dancing alone might not always be an option. You could always add some family bonding time and mental health benefits by doing a family dance party.

See how easy it is to fit in 11 minutes of daily exercise? You can do it. In fact, you owe it to yourself after getting through this past year. Although no one can give you a do-over of 2020, you can make up for lost time by adding a little more to your life span.