Reducing your risk for any type of illness should be a regular goal. It should come as no surprise that exercise on a regular basis is a good thing but a recent observation and now an official guideline from the World Health Organization and the US Department of Health and Human Services makes a much stronger case for physical activity.

According to these governing bodies at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours total) each week of aerobic activity (walking, jogging, treadmill walking, etc.) and muscle strengthening exercise at least twice a week was linked to a 48% lower risk of death from the flu or pneumonia after adjustments for sociodemographic and life style factors.

Don’t go crazy. While some increase in risk reduction was found with more than 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week the benefits plateaued after 600 minutes per week (10 hours). The same applied to muscle strengthening exercise where 2 sessions per week yielded better results than 7. These observations were made after a survey of over 570,000 people.

The reason for the improvement in death risk from flu and pneumonia is most likely due to an improved immune profile in those who are more active. As Ben Franklin once said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Regular activity is a simple and inexpensive way to improve your health and feel better every day. Summertime is a good time to get out and start a simple walking program. Have fun!