Walking or gardening for just 10 minutes per week could cut the risk of death, new research suggests.
Even low levels of physical activity are linked to a reduced chance of dying from cancer, cardiovascular disease and other illnesses, according to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
The researchers said spending just a little time on active leisure pursuits could bring health benefits.
The study analysed data from more than 88,000 adults aged 40 to 85 years old between 1997 and 2008, and linked this with deaths registered until the end of 2011.
One minute of running, fast cycling and competitive sports was considered to be equivalent to two minutes of moderate-intensity activity such as brisk walking, gardening or dancing.
Only activities lasting longer than 10 minutes were taken into account.
Those who took part in 10 to 59 minutes per week of moderate activity were found to have an 18% lower risk of death from any cause during the period studied, compared with those who were inactive, the study found.
People who took part in 150 to 299 minutes per week reduced their risk of death by almost a third (31%).
“We found that beneficial association between leisure time physical activity and mortality starts from a low dose. Doing more vigorous exercise could lead to additional health benefits,” the authors said.
“Promoting physical activity of any intensity and amount is an important approach to reducing mortality risk in the general population.”