Lovers of vigorous exercise aren’t the only ones who get health benefits from physical activity. Lower-key workouts — even activities you’d never think of as exercise — can also improve your well-being, studies find.
Now, new research published in JAMA Network Open shows just how impactful any type of movement can be. Compared to women who get less exercise, those who get lots of light physical activity may have up to a 42% lower risk of dying from coronary problems, such as heart attacks, and a 22% lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease, the study says.
Light activity includes “most of the movements of daily life,” says study co-author Andrea LaCroix, a professor and chief of epidemiology at the University of California, San Diego. Walking around, getting dressed, checking the mail, pruning the garden and doing dishes all count. “Those are examples of daily life activities that we don’t think of as exercise, but we spend a lot of time doing them and they involve movement,” LaCroix says. “We traditionally haven’t included them in our definition of physical activity. That’s why this research is really paradigm-shifting.”