Cancer Insurance

20-Minutes a Day Will Help You Stay Healthy

older couple walking

Question: Which of these activities is the riskiest way to spend your day?

  1. Sitting at your computer without a break as you prepare spreadsheets for a big presentation?
  2. Lying on the couch watching TV morning, noon, and night?
  3. Reclining with a good book in the backyard hammock all day?

Answer: All of the above.

The reason is simple: You’re not getting up and getting some exercise.

There’s Truth in Numbers

We’re not talking about running a 5K every day. But according to research from a Medical Research Council (MRC) study that tracked the weight and exercise levels of 334,161 European men and women over a period of 12 years, a brisk 20-minute walk can lessen your risk of death by 16% to 30%.

Conducted in 10 countries across Europe, including Great Britain, the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC) study looked at the lifestyles of people whose average age was 50; nearly a quarter of them worked in sedentary jobs and didn’t workout or get recreational exercise. Their methodology was fairly basic: Researchers measured the height, weight and waistlines of the participants, who regularly reported their levels of physical activity.

Published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study found the highest risk of premature death among the completely inactive individuals.

What’s more, when the researchers looked at the statistics for the 9.2 million deaths in Europe in 2008, they found only 337,000 of them could be blamed on obesity while 676,000—nearly double—were due to lack of physical activity.

A Simple Message

Professor Ulf Ekelund, study leader at the MRC epidemiology unit at Cambridge University concluded, “This is a simple message: Just a small amount of physical activity each day could have substantial health benefits for people who are physically inactive.”

older couple hiking

For those who battle obesity, the study offers hope through small, positive changes. Co-author Nick Wareham, director of the MRC epidemiology unit, pointed out: “Helping people to lose weight can be a real challenge and, whilst we should continue to aim at reducing population levels of obesity, public health interventions that encourage people to make small but achievable changes in physical activity can have significant health benefits and may be easier to achieve and maintain.”

Exercise and Cancer Prevention

Among the health benefits of exercise are lowering your risk of coronary heart disease as well as cancers. According to the National Cancer Institute, people who exercise regularly have a 40% to 50% lower risk of colon cancer. In addition, women who exercise at moderate-to-vigorous levels for more than three hours per week have a 30% to 40% lower risk of breast cancer—a result that applies to all women, family history aside.

Clearly, getting even a modest amount of exercise is very good for your overall health as it lowers your risk of premature death by 7.35%.1 Staying current with regular checkups and cancer screenings are other easy steps you can take. And for Legionnaires, the Legionnaire Insurance Trust Cancer Care Insurance Plan offers important benefits when you need them most. To learn more, visit us at


Press Association, Scientists recommend 20-minutes daily walk to avoid premature death, January 14, 2015. Editorial Board, Physical Activity and Cancer Risk, September 2013.

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