If you’re struggling to find the motivation to exercise then new UK research has revealed a big benefit of working out, after finding that meeting the weekly recommended amount of physical activity — just 30 minutes a day, five times a week — could prevent as many as 3.9 million early deaths globally every year.
Carried out by researchers at the Universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh, the new study looked at data for 168 countries which showed what proportion of the population met the World Health Organization’s (WHO) global recommendation of doing at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week, or just 75 minutes but making it a vigorous-intensity activity, or a combination of both.
After combining this data with the estimated risk of dying early for active people, compared to dying early for inactive people, the researchers were able to estimate the proportion of deaths that were preventable by physical activity.
The findings, published in The Lancet Global Health, showed that around the world, meeting these physical activity recommendations could lower the number of premature deaths on average by 15 percent — 14 percent for women and 16 percent for men — which is 3.9 million deaths worldwide.
Although the researchers also found that levels of physical activity varied widely between countries — only 33 percent of people in Kuwait met the WHO’s recommended amount of physical activity, compared to 64 percent of the United Kingdom and 94 percent in Mozambique — the positive effect of physical activity was also fairly consistent around the world.
The researchers say that often we are reminded of the negative consequences of not working out, rather than the positive benefits we can reap if we do exercise.
“We’re used to looking at the downsides of not getting enough activity — whether that’s sports or a gym or just a brisk walk at lunchtime — but by focusing on the number of lives saved, we can tell a good news story of what is already being achieved,” added one of the study’s authors, Dr. Tessa Strain. “It tells us how much good is being done and helps us say ‘look how much benefit physical activity is already providing — let’s make things even better by increasing physical activity levels further’.