Doing a little can help a lot: A new study published in the European Heart Journal has found that doing 15 minutes of vigorous exercise every week—or, just about two minutes of intense activity every day—decreases your risk of death by 18 percent.
How could researchers possibly know that? They strapped activity monitors on the wrists of 71,893 adults (with a median age of 62.5) for almost seven years. For the next five years after that, the researchers kept track of who died. People who did no physical activity had a four percent risk of dying over that time frame. But those who did just 10 minutes per week halved that risk to two percent. Overall, 15 minutes of strenuous activity per week decreased the risk of death by 18 percent.
“The results indicate that accumulating vigorous activity in short bouts across the week can help us live longer,” study author Dr. Matthew N. Ahmadi of the University of Sydney, Australia, wrote in a statement. “Given that lack of time is the most commonly reported barrier to regular physical activity, accruing small amounts sporadically during the day may be a particularly attractive option for busy people.”
Of course, the more activity, the better. The CDC recommends 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week, or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous physical activity, or a combination of both. One study found that following these guidelines reduces your risk of mortality by 21 percent. But the same study also learned that doing even more exercise, like 90 minutes per day, has still greater longevity benefits.
Longevity isn’t the only reason to sneak in a two-to-three minute workout every day. Another recent study found that 10 minutes of exercise every week also boosted happiness. Regular movement also increases your healthspan, or the number of years you can live without major diseases.
There’s a big gulf between two minutes and 30 minutes, let alone 90 minutes, per day. But the studies send the same message: that exercise prolongs your life. So no matter what you can fit in, even if it’s two minutes of sit-ups, a short dog walk, or an exercise snack, it’s worth your time.
Got eight minutes to spare? Try this tabata-style workout to get the most bang for your buck: