A new study looking at the exercise habits of 577,909 adults in the US found that just 10 minutes of regular aerobic exercise (or “cardio”) a week can substantially cut the risk of death from flu or pneumonia.

The relative risk of dying from flu or pneumonia dropped by 21 percent on average in this 10-150 weekly minutes group, compared with those who did no exercise at all, based on 20 years of data.

Logging 150-300 and 301-600 minutes per week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) was associated with 41 percent and 50 percent reductions in risk, compared with no activity at all. However, no extra benefits were seen past 600 minutes per week, suggesting a plateauing effect.

The team also looked at muscle-strengthening activity (MSA): the recommended weekly amount for this is at least two sessions per week. Taken with MVPA, those who met both targets averaged a 48 percent reduction in risk of death from flu or pneumonia, compared with those who met neither target.

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