Doctors often tout how exercise can help ward off disease, but previous research hasnt concluded just how much physical activity is needed to reap those benefits.
To find out, researchers in the United States and Australia conducted a meta-analysis of 174 studies published between 1980 and 2016 that examined the effect of exercise on five chronic diseases: breast cancer, colon cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
Study authors observed that, to a certain point, the more a person exercised, the lower his or her risk of all five conditions. But the sweet spot for health gains occurred when individuals had a total activity level of 3000-4000 metabolic equivalent (MET) minutes a week, according to a news release. Benefits halted beyond an activity level of 4000 MET minutes a week.
MET measures express the energy cost of physical activity, which is calculated by the number of calories an activity can burn multiplied by the number of minutes a person is engaged in said activity. On its website, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlines the MET value of various activities, from walking the dog or biking, to mountain climbing or aerobic dancing.
Researchers results, which were published Tuesday in The BMJ, suggest current World Health Organization recommendations for a minimum total physical activity level of 600 MET minutes a week across different domains of life may be insufficient.
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