Exercise your right to a long life

As for exercise’s positive effects on your health and longevity, those baby steps work better as grown-up strides. Walking is an easy way to boost your wellbeing, and many studies confirm that just 30 minutes of physical activity a day does the trick: You’ll not only halve your risks of diabetes and heart disease, but also reduce your chances of developing colon cancer and breast cancer, two of the most common cancers affecting Australians, says Tim Crowe, PhD, associate professor in nutrition at Victoria’s Deakin University.

“Studies show that for people who are recovering from or at risk of either of these cancers, physical activity can reduce the risk of recurrence or onset,” explains Crowe. “However, the reason is still unclear — it could be movement’s positive influence on the immune system or its effect on growth hormones that increase the risk of cancer.”

If you want to move even more, but the idea of running makes you burrow deeper into the couch, the heartening results of a major new US study might just coax you into your shorts. Running for a mere seven minutes a day (yes, just seven!), even at a slow pace, can reduce the risk of death from all causes by nearly a third, according to the study, which was published in Journal of the American College of Cardiology. In other words, you can do your health a big favour in the time it takes to make a phone call or have a shower.

Best of all, it’s never too late to start: A 2009 Swedish study concluded that men who became more physically active at the age of 50 had the same reduced mortality risk at 60 as men who’d been active for a longer time. So let’s get moving!
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