- New research shows that just 20 minutes more exercise a day can lower your risk of being hospitalized in the future.
- The researchers saw this association with nine health conditions.
- Experts offer tips for becoming more active.
We all know that exercise is important for your overall health – its benefits go beyond the physical, it’s even essential to your mental well-being. Now, a new study shows that adding an extra 20 minutes of exercise to your day could lower your risk of future hospitalization due to a serious medical condition.
The study, published in Open JAMA Network, used data from 81,717 UK biobank participants aged 42-78. Participants wore an accelerometer, a type of Fitness Tracker, for one week (between June 1, 2013 and December 23, 2015) and the researchers followed them for 7 years. Participants with a medical history of a condition were excluded from analysis specific to that condition. Thus, a person who already had gallbladder disease was excluded from the analysis for that specific condition.
Time spent in sedentary activity (such as driving or watching television), light physical activity (such as cooking or personal care), moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (such as walking the dog or jogging), and sleep were estimated using wearable cameras and time diaries in 152 people living under normal conditions.
After assessing the participants’ activity levels, the researchers used a modeling technique to substitute 20 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity for the sedentary behavior. They found that adding just 20 minutes of physical activity was found to significantly reduce potential future hospitalizations.
To take the researchers’ view further, higher levels of physical activity were associated with lower risks of hospitalization for the following nine conditions: gallbladder disease, urinary tract infections, diabetes (type 1 and type 2), venous thromboembolism, pneumoniaischemic stroke, iron deficiency anemia, diverticular disease, and colon polyps. Increasing physical activity by just 20 minutes a day was linked to reductions in hospitalization ranging from 3.8% for colon polyps to 23% for diabetes.
Taken together, these results suggest that increasing physical activity by just 20 minutes a day can effectively reduce the risk of hospitalization across a wide range of medical conditions.
Why could exercise help reduce the risk of hospitalization?
Exercise and increased physical activity can improve overall ability to adapt to stressors and reduce frailty, says Dr. Johannes. “It may also reduce the risk of comorbidities, such as ischemic heart disease (coronary artery disease), diabetes, and deconditioning, which can complicate a disease.” Reducing the risk of comorbidities can mean that a medical problem, such as a urinary tract infection or pneumonia, can be less serious and, in turn, more treatable outside the hospital, thus preventing hospitalization, he explains. -he.
Given that exercise has been associated with a lower risk of ischemic heart disease, it is not surprising that exercise and physical activity are associated with a lower risk of hospitalization due to stroke. brain, which itself is often linked to heart disease, says Dr. Johannes. Exercise can often also improve diabetes management by increasing muscle insulin sensitivity, so it’s no surprise that it’s associated with a lower risk of hospitalization due to diabetes complications, adds- he.
However, says Dr Johannes, it’s important to keep in mind that some of the people who may be hospitalized for certain conditions may have underlying issues that prevent them from being as active, which means their lack of physical activity is the result of their medical conditions rather than the reverse.
How to increase your physical activity?
This study includes market like moderate to vigorous exercise, so I think that’s a great place to start, says Jimmy Johannes, MD, a pulmonologist and critical care medicine specialist at MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center. “I generally recommend starting with 10 to 15 minutes of walking per day, two to three days per week and gradually increasing the time, intensity and number of days per week.” For those who find it difficult to incorporate exercise into their daily routine, tracking steps with an activity tracker (like on a smartphone or watch) can help motivate people to stay active, for example by taking stairs instead of the elevator, he adds.
“I recommend taking at least 5,000 steps per day and ideally 7,500 or more steps per day. But in general, something is better than nothing,” says Dr. Johannes.
The bottom line
Exercise can improve strength, balance, energy, mood, cognition and self-image, says Dr. Johannes. Regarding the findings of this new study, “I think there is more evidence to support that increased physical activity is associated with better health outcomes. This study provides additional information on the association between physical activity and a lower risk of hospitalization for various conditions that are not usually related to physical fitness, such as urinary tract infections, bladder diseases biliary and pneumonia,” he explains.
At least 150-300 minutes per week are known to result in a 30-40% reduction in mortality, depending on Meagan Wasfy, MD, MPH, sports cardiologist from Mass General Brigham. “Exercise can help reduce risk factors such as blood pressure, blood cholesterol levels, weight management, and the risk of type 2 diabetes.”
Ultimately, higher levels of physical activity are linked to better long-term health outcomes and a lower risk of hospitalization for a range of conditions across the board, Dr. Wasfy says.
Magdalene, Preventionassociate editor of , has a history with health writing from her experience as an editorial assistant at WebMD and her personal research at university. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in biopsychology, cognition, and neuroscience — and she helps strategize for success across Preventionsocial media platforms.