Two exercises shown to slash risk of death from flu or pneumonia by 48%

Dr Michael Mosley on the benefits of exercise

A research paper, printed in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, outlined the health benefits of moving the body.

The team analysed a dataset of 578,000 adults from the US National Health Interview Survey, between 1998 and 2018.

Each participant was categorised by how well they met recommended aerobic and muscle-strengthening weekly targets.

Utilising the NHS guidelines, everybody is recommended to complete at least 150 minutes per week of moderately intense cardio exercise.

Alternatively, people should complete at least 75 minutes of vigorous cardio exercise.

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Moreover, it’s advised that people should add in two muscle-strengthening activities each week.

Examples of aerobic exercises are cardio such as brisk walking, swimming, running and stair climbing.

Muscle-strengthening activities involve weights, resistance bands and exercises such as squats, lunges, press-ups and even gardening.

In the study, 81,431 participants died, of which 1,516 were linked to flu and pneumonia.

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The scientists said those who had met both targets had their risk of dying from flu or pneumonia slashed by 48 percent compared to those who met neither.

In addition, people who only completed the weekly aerobic activity target benefitted from a 36 percent lower risk of dying from flu or pneumonia.

Any type of exercise resulted in some sort of benefit, with up to 149 minutes of aerobic exercise per week leading to a 21 percent reduced risk of death from a viral infection, such as flu.

As a person exercised more during the week, the better the outcomes seemed to be.

When it came to muscle-strengthening activities, meeting the weekly target of two weekly sessions was linked to a 47 percent lower risk of death from flu or pneumonia.

However, doing seven or more muscle-strengthening activities during a week was associated with a 41 percent higher risk of dying from the viral infections.

Study author Dr Bryant Webber said: “Although [10-150 mins/week] is often labelled ‘insufficient’ because it falls below the recommended duration, it may confer health benefits relative to physical inactivity.

“Efforts to reduce influenza and pneumonia mortality among adults might focus on decreasing the prevalence of aerobic inactivity and increasing the prevalence of achieving two episodes per week of muscle-strengthening activity.”

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