London: Want to live a long and healthy life? Just take a brisk walk daily for half-an-hour, for a new study has claimed that it cuts the risk of 24 illnesses - from cancer and heart disease to dementia.
Researchers have found that bursts of regular exercise reduce the risk of osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, depression, obesity and high blood pressure, apart from slowing down the negative affects of old age and cutting the risk of suffering from coronary heart disease and stroke.
The study by East Anglia University has also revealed that physical activity cuts dementia risk in the elderly, the `Daily Express` reported.
The researchers have based their findings on an analysis of 40 previous researches over the past four years.
They link higher levels of physical activity to lower cancer death rates.
The findings revealed that adults of all ages up to 65 can improve their chances of staying disease-free by doing 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week, like 30 minutes of brisk walking five days a week.
People who take more vigorous exercise, such as jogging, should aim for 20 minutes, three days a week, the study found. And, apart from not smoking, being active was the best thing for improving long-term health.
Lead researcher Leslie Alford said: "How long people live and how healthy they are depends on a complex mix of factors including lifestyle, where they live and even luck. "Individuals have an element of control over some of these factors including obesity, diet, smoking and physical activity. It appears that our bodies have evolved to function on a certain level of physical activity many of us do not achieve in our modern, sedentary lifestyles."
One of the most striking links, for both sexes, was between increased exercise and cutting the risk of colon cancer. Walking or cycling for at least half an hour a day is linked with a reduction in cancer - but when this is increased to an hour, colon cancer rates fall by a massive 16 per cent.
Alford added: "To gain maximum health benefits people should exercise, not smoke, eat a healthy diet and have a body mass index of less than 25.
"The more of these healthy traits an individual has, the less likely they are to develop a range of chronic disorders. Men and women of all ages should be encouraged to be more physically active for the sake of long-term health." The findings have been published in the `International Journal of Clinical Practice`.