Exercise Australia
Workers at the Fortescue Solomon iron ore mine perform stretching exercises in the Valley of the Kings, around 400 km (248 miles) south of Port Hedland in the Pilbara region of Western Australia December 2, 2013. Reuters/David Gray

A Queensland study has found that only a dramatic increase in exercise may allow Australians combat stroke and heart diseases. Moreover, researchers at The University of Queensland that a five-fold increase of the current World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations may also reduce bowel and breast cancers as well as diabetes.

As per researcher Dr. Lennert Veerman, people need to be six hours of running or 15 hours of walking as opposed to WHO’s recommended activity of two to three hours a week of running or brisk walking.

The study analysed more than 170 previous studies published between 1980 and 2016 and found higher levels of exercise were associated with a reduced risk of chronic conditions. Veerman said incorporating exercise in daily life may make all the difference although less than half of Australians adhere to the current WHO guidelines. The study has been published in the British Medical Journal.

Veerman said WHO recommends physical activity of 10 metabolic equivalent (MET) hours a week.

“So that's the equivalent of about 1.75 hours of running or two, three hours of walking briskly [a week]. But the study found health gains accumulated up to the levels of 50 to 70 MET hours a week. That's the equivalent of 15-20 hours of brisk walking or 6-8 hours of running [a week],” he told the ABC.

Veerman, in order to carry out the study, collaborated with experts from University of Washngton and Dartmouth College.

“About 43 per cent of Australians adults adhere to the current WHO guidelines and we are saying they should do much more. So if you cycle to work, walk to work, or if you take the stairs consistently, all those sort of things add up. If we want to live long and healthy and reduce our waistlines, we need to do more activity,” Veerman added.

Thus, increasing the WHO recommended activity levels by five times may help in reducing the risk of five major health conditions such as bowel and breast cancer, stroke, heart diseases and diabetes.