People need to do five times the exercise recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to stay healthy, a Queensland study has found.
Researchers from the University of Queensland studied the link between physical activity and chronic health conditions including breast and bowel cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
They found exercise levels recommended by the WHO needed to be much higher to increase resistance.
Reducing the risk of chronic disease:
- Walk briskly for 15-20 hours per week
- Run between six and eight hours per week
- Ride for seven hours per week
- Swim for eight hours per week
Researcher Dr Lennert Veerman said the WHO recommended physical activity of 10 metabolic equivalent (MET) hours a week.
“So that’s the equivalent of about 1.75 hours of running or two, three hours of walking briskly [a week],” he said.
“But the study found health gains accumulated up to the levels of 50 to 70 MET hours a week.
“That’s the equivalent of 15-20 hours of brisk walking or 6-8 hours of running [a week].”
Dr Veerman collaborated with researchers from the University of Washington and Dartmouth College.
They analysed the results of 174 health studies between 1980 and 2016 and found higher levels of physical activity were linked to the reduced risk of chronic conditions.
“About 43 per cent of Australians adults adhere to the current WHO guidelines and we are saying they should do much more,” he said.
“So if you cycle to work, walk to work, or if you take the stairs consistently, all those sort of things add up,” he said.
“If we want to live long and healthy and reduce our waistlines, we need to do more activity.
“Activity levels for optimum health need to be able about five times the currently recommended levels.”
The researchers have also called for a greater investment to promote physical activity.