According to researchers from University of Cambridge, 11 minutes a day of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as a brisk walk, would be sufficient to lower the risk of diseases such as heart disease, stroke and a number of cancers.

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death globally, responsible for 17.9 million deaths per year in 2019, while cancers were responsible for 9.6 million deaths.

Physical activity is known to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer; however, researchers from University of Cambridge has carried out a study to increase the sample size.

In total, they looked at results reported in 196 peer-reviewed articles, covering more than 30 million participants. They found that 75 minutes per week of moderate activity was also enough to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by 17% and cancer by 7%. 

In case of some specific cancers, the reduction in risk was greater.

Cancers affecting the head and neck, myeloid leukemia, myeloma, and gastric cancers were between 14-26% lower risk. For other cancers, such as lung, liver, endometrial, colon, and breast cancer, a 3-11% lower risk was observed.

The researchers calculated that if everyone in the studies had done the equivalent of at least 150 min per week of moderate-intensity activity, around one in six early deaths would be prevented. One in twenty (5%) cases of cardiovascular disease and nearly one in thirty (3%) cases of cancer would be prevented.

Moderate activity doesn’t have to involve what we normally think of exercise, such as running.

For example, try to walk or cycle to your work as well as a daily walk is considered beneficial. Moderate-intensity physical activity raises heart rate and makes you breathe faster, but you would still be able to speak during the activity. These activities are brisk walking, dancing, riding a bike, playing tennis, and hiking.

Source and more information: Garcia L. et al.: Non-occupational physical activity and risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and mortality outcomes: a dose-response meta-analysis of large prospective studies. Br J Sports Med. 2023 Feb 28:bjsports-2022-105669. ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2023. február 28. <>