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Must exercise be lengthy to help lengthen your life?

April 11, 2018—Maybe you're too busy for long workouts. Or maybe they're just not your thing. Good news: You can still improve your chances of living a longer, healthier life by fitting quick bursts of activity into your day.

That's according to new research that could help shape new U.S. government exercise guidelines later this year. Current advice, written in 2008, suggests that busy Americans exercise at least 10 minutes at a time for health benefits.

But the new findings suggest you might help ward off diseases with any motion, however brief, as long as it's at least as challenging as a brisk walk. And it can be unplanned—like taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

The study involved 4,840 people age 40 and older who wore accelerometers that allowed the researchers to measure their daily activity from 2003 to 2006. Several years later, researchers used national databases to determine how many of the study's participants were still alive as of 2011. According to their findings, the people who got the most activity per day cut their risk of dying early of any cause by more than 75 percent. But the most significant finding was that it didn't matter whether they accrued their daily exercise a little at a time or in longer stints.

Current exercise guidelines call for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. This study shows you can get those minutes in large or small chunks—the most important thing is that you're moving.

The research appears in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Lace up your shoes

When it comes to exercise, walking is as simple as it gets. Here's how to get started.

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