No such thing as too little exercise, says Chief Medical Officer, as ten minute minimum is scrapped
A burst of exercise cannot be too short, new guidance from the country’s top doctor suggests, as it calls on Britons to do what they can, when they can.
Until now, the advice had suggested that 10 minutes activity was the minimum required to achieve health benefits.
But today the chief medical officer urged people to fit as much movement as possible into their daily lives, by using the stairs rather than the lift, getting off the bus early and throwing themselves into their housework.
The new guidance keeps the recommendation that adults should carry out at least 150 minutes ‘moderate intensity’ activity - such as brisk walking or cycling - a week. Alternatively, 75 minutes of vigorous movement such as running is suggested.
But it suggests this can be done in long or short sessions, spread over the week however suits best.
And the new advice puts a stronger emphasis on “strengthening” activities such as weight lifting, carrying shopping or doing heavy gardening, especially for older adults. And it says any activity is better than none, urging those with inactive lives to take up dancing, bowls or tai chi.
The new guidance also endorses activities such as HIT (high intensity interval exercise) programmes which require very short bursts of exercise. And it suggests that step counters, such as Fitbits might help adults to boost activity levels.
Prof Dame Sally Davies said the advice to the public is that when it comes to activity, “some is good, more is better”
"If physical activity were a drug we would refer to it as a miracle cure,” her report says.
She told The Daily Telegraph: “This is about building activity into every day life, Walking up a flight or two of stairs instead of getting the lift. Getting off the bus early .. or pushing the vaccum cleaner around”.
Officials hope that by making the advice more flexible, those with sedentary habits are more likely to change their ways.
The advice does not set specific time targets for strength activities, but encourages Britons to ensure they carry out two such activities weekly.