The bare minimum amount of exercise you need to stay healthy (it's less than you think!)

Running ShoesWe've heard time and time again that people should be active almost daily to stave off weight gain and disease. But busy people want to know: What's the least amount of exercise I can get away with and still stay healthy? The answer will shock you...

What number did you guess? An hour a week? A half hour? Try seven minutes.

Check out these exercise trends for 2009!

According to British researchers, just seven minutes of exercise weekly may prevent diabetes by controlling your blood sugar. Type 2 diabetes affects an estimated 246 million adults worldwide and accounts for 6 percent of all global deaths. People with this condition gradually lose the ability to use insulin to convert food to energy.

Here's the catch: The exercise has to be vigorous. (We're talking on the level of an all-out sprint.) But at seven minutes a pop, I can deal with that! And you don't even have to do those seven minutes all at once, either. In the study, volunteers rode exercise bikes four times a day in 30-second spurts twice a week. After two weeks, subjects had a 23 percent improvement in how effectively their body cleared blood sugar from their bodies.

Studies show that vigorous exercise also reduces the risk of breast cancer.

How much exercise do you get weekly? Do you prefer moderate or intense workouts? Would you do a vigorous seven-minute workout if you knew it would prevent diabetes?

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by Maridel Reyes

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