What’s the Smallest Dose of Exercise that Can Improve my Health?


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What’s the Smallest Dose of Exercise that Can Improve my Health?

The Takeaway First

We all know that physical activity is good for our health. But in our later years, our aging bodies can limit the amount of physical activity we can actually do safely and regularly. How much exercise does it take to see real health benefits? A new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine tells us that it’s less than you think.

Study Details

This study (Hupin et al., 2015) looked at data from nine cohort studies. These nine studies examined the relationship between moderate to vigorous physical activity and mortality specifically in 122,417 adults aged 60 years and older.

The mean age was 72.9 years, and cohorts drew their populations from America, the Pacific, and Asia.

The study found that a low dose of moderate to vigorous physical activity (anywhere from 1 to 499 MET-minutes per week) reduced mortality by 22 percent.

Adults who followed the recommended dose of 500-999 MET-minutes per week reduced their mortality risk by 28 percent.

Exercising more than 1000 MET-minutes per week was even better for health; it reduced the risk of mortality by 35 percent.

My Take on Exercise

This study clearly shows us that even a little physical activity is enough to reduce all-cause mortality. What it doesn’t tell us is whether the same amount of exercise has any benefit for prostate health.

If you are over the age of 60 and find it difficult to exercise at all, I recommend 15 minutes a day of moderate exercise as the bare minimum. This will at least lower your chances of flat-out dying. But if you are looking to lose weight, develop muscle tone, or reduce your risk of prostate cancer, it is going to take a bit more.

How much more? For these extra benefits, I recommend 3-4 hours per week of moderate to vigorous activity. It could be running, jogging, power-walking, rowing, tennis, cycling—anything that makes you sweat.

Maybe you won’t like it, but give it time. Our bodies can get used to anything; getting used to it is the hard part. Avid exercisers find it difficult to sit still; sedentary people find it difficult to get moving. It is only a matter of building habits. I guarantee you that doing anything different from

What you usually do will be hard, until it becomes what you usually do.

What You Should Do

The most important lesson to take away from this is that any physical activity is better than none at all. To reduce your risk of all-cause mortality, 15 minutes a day is technically enough. But if you can do more, do more. You can be a minimalist with many things and do just fine, but don’t be a minimalist with improving your ability to living a great life.

Let’s go and move.


Hupin, D., Roche, F., Gremeaux, V., Chatard, J-C., Oriol, M., Gaspoz, J-M, Barthélémy, J-C., Edouard, P. (2015). Even a low-dose of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity reduces mortality by 22% in adults aged ≥60 years: a systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine (August 2015). Retrieved from


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