Here's Why You Should Exercise For 11 Minutes A Day

Taking a brisk walk at lunchtime or using the stairs can extend your lifespan, according to new research showing that just 11 minutes of moderate exercise has long-term health benefits (via Metro). Researchers from the Norwegian School of Sports Medicine followed 44,370 men and women from four countries for four to 14.5 years, during which 3,451 participants died, according to the study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Using activity monitors, the researchers tracked the participants' "moderate-to-vigorous" physical activity.

They found that the risk of death increased the longer that people were sedentary for an average of 8.5 to 10.5 hours a day — not much of a surprise for anyone feeling guilty about how little they move because of a commute, a desk job, or working from home. But the researchers also tracked the participants' activity, which ranged from 8 minutes to 35 minutes per day. Those who exercised for 35 minutes a day saw the "biggest statistical difference on lifespan," but those who moved for just 11 minutes also experienced "a noticeable change," the research showed.

Work in a few minutes at a time with a brisk walk, taking the stairs, or doing a quick circuit of squats or push-ups

Previous studies have established that sedentary behavior doesn't do your heart or long-term health any favors. One study in the Annals of Internal Medicine funded by the National Institutes of Health tracked the activity of about 8,000 adults ages 45 and older for four years and found that "those who spent the most time sitting were also the most likely to have died during the study, even after analyzing other factors — like time spent exercising" (via Travel + Leisure). "Sitting really is the new smoking," New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center researcher and physician Monika Safford said of those results.

Other studies have suggested that people need an hour to 75 minutes of exercise for the most "mortality benefits." However, some of that data may be flawed because of participants who weren't accurate when reporting their activity levels instead of wearing activity monitors, the Norwegian study notes.

In any case, if you've been struggling to fit 30 minutes of exercise or more into your day, working in a few minutes at a time certainly can't hurt. Try walking outside, doing a quick circuit of squats or push-ups, or doing a yoga pose with an app or online instructor.