Physical activity may lower risk of 5 diseases
People who achieve total physical activity levels several times higher than the current recommended minimum level significantly lower their risk of five diseases namely breast and bowel cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke, says a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013 published August 9, 2016 in the BMJ.
This is the first meta-analysis, which has quantified dose-response association between total physical activity across all domains and the risk of five chronic diseases and analyzed data from 174 cohort studies. Compared with individuals with total activity <600 MET minutes per week, the risk reduction for those in the highly active category (≥8000 MET minutes per week) was 14% for breast cancer, 21% for colon cancer, 28% for diabetes, 25% for ischemic heart disease and 26% for ischemic stroke.
These results suggest that total physical activity needs to be several times higher than the recommended minimum level of 600 MET minutes/week for larger reductions in the risk of these diseases.
The WHO recommends at least 600 metabolic equivalent (MET) minutes of total activity (irrespective of domains) per week for health benefits i.e., about 150 minutes/week of brisk walking or 75 minutes per week of running. This high level of total activity can be achieved by combining different types of physical activity into the daily routine. Focusing on a particular domain such as leisure time physical activity, which represents only a small fraction of total activity, as was done by most studies, restricts the scope of applicability of the findings.