Minimum Amount of Weekly Exercise Should Be Increased

Currently the WHO recommend that people conduct at least 600 metabolic equivalent minutes (METs) of exercise per week. This equates to 150 minutes of walking or 75 minutes of running per week however a new study published this week suggests that this number is just not enough.

The study published in the BMJ looked at the effects of exceeding the recommended amount of exercise on five of the most common chronic diseases; breast cancer, colon cancer, diabetes, ischemic heart disease and stroke.


“People who achieve total physical activity levels several times higher than the current recommended minimum level have a significant reduction in the risk of the five diseases studied.”

What was most interesting is that there was a large drop in percentage risk from 600-4,000 METs and then a more longer-term steady reduction from 4,000 – 10,000 METs.  In terms of real world advice for patients they should be aiming for between 3,000-4,000 METs per week as this is where the most significant change occurred.

The authors said that 3000 MET minutes each week can be achieved by climbing the stairs for 10 minutes, vacuuming for 15 minutes, gardening for 20 minutes, running for 20 minutes, and walking or cycling for transportation 25 minutes on a daily basis.

A “MET” is a measure of exercise intensity based on oxygen consumption. More specifically, a single MET is defined as the amount of oxygen a person consumes (or the energy expended) per unit of body weight during 1 minute of rest. What does need to be considered is the fact that this is a measure of the volume of activity and not intensity, frequency or duration we cannot assess if the reduction in risk would be different with longer or more intensive exercise.

At Physiopedia physical health and activity is of utmost importance and if you wish to learn more then check out the recent physical activity course for excellent teaching materials.