One in 10 early deaths could have been prevented if everyone had met just half the recommended weekly target of 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity, indicates the largest pooled data analysis of its kind, published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Just 75 minutes a week substantially reduces the risks of early death, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers, including those of the head and neck and myeloid leukaemia, the analysis shows.
Higher levels of physical activity are associated with lower risks of death from all causes. But differing methods used in previous pooled data analyses on which these associations are based, make it difficult to pinpoint reduced risks for specific outcomes.
And workplace physical activity, which is hard to measure, has often been included in these analyses, explain the researchers.
To overcome these issues, the researchers deployed a new framework that enabled them to compare studies measuring and reporting physical activity in many different ways; to exclude resting energy expenditure; and for the first time, to explore the dose-response links between leisure time physical activity and specific types of cancer.