Health Buzz: To Live Longer, Get 15 Minutes of Daily Exercise

5 cheap alternatives to hiring a personal trainer; how to stay safe on ozone-alert days.

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Just 15 Minutes of Daily Exercise May Add 3 Years to Life

A little bit of exercise could lengthen your life, new research suggests. Getting just 15 minutes of daily physical activity increases life expectancy by about three years, according to a study published Monday in the Lancet. The findings come from observational data on more than 400,000 people in Taiwan who reported their weekly exercise habits for eight years. Those who logged 15 minutes of daily exercise were 14 percent less likely to die of any cause and 10 percent less likely to die of cancer during the study period, compared with their sedentary peers. Each additional 15 minutes cut the risk of death by another 4 percent and the risk of cancer death by 1 percent, Bloomberg reports. "This advice is very simple and probably easily achievable," wrote Anil Nigam and Martin Juneau, researchers at the Montreal Heart Institute, in an editorial accompanying the study. "Governments and health professionals both have major roles to play to spread this good news story and convince people of the importance of being at least minimally active."

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  • 5 Cheap Alternatives to Hiring a Personal Trainer

    If you can't afford a personal trainer—or don't want one—there are a number of exercise and nutrition resources available on the Internet. For some, the convenience and social support of surfing for fitness guidance online can make it just as effective as working with a trainer in person, fitness blogger Chelsea Bush writes for U.S. News. Here's a guide for how to use (and not to use) today's top online fitness tools.

    1. Social Media. Benefits: Social networks like Facebook and Twitter make it easy to get quick fitness tips and news updates, and connect with peers who can offer support and accountability as you work toward your goals. "People tend to stay with a program if they feel part of a community, and social media is the perfect vehicle for establishing this," says New York-based trainer Robert Brace. You can "check in" at the gym on Foursquare, a smart phone app that posts your whereabouts to your Facebook and Twitter profiles. Or you can tweet pictures of the healthy salad you made for lunch via apps like Flickr and Twitpic. With devices like the Nike+ SportBand, many are logging their running time and distance and broadcasting these from their social media profiles.

    The caveat: While social networks can help you stay plugged in to your fitness program, most trainers say these shouldn't be your sole source of support. "The great part about social media is that it reaches the masses," says David Kirsch, a New York-based trainer who fires off daily tips via Twitter and Facebook. But therein also lies the downside, which he acknowledges. Most of what you get from social media is advice for the masses, but to be effective, a fitness routine should be tailored to your body and lifestyle, he says. [Read more: 5 Cheap Alternatives to Hiring a Personal Trainer.]

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    • Air Pollution and Asthma: 4 Ways to Stay Safe on "Ozone-Alert" Days

      Summer months can be tough on people with asthma, which affects more than 20 million Americans. Poor air quality caused by a combination of ground-level ozone and air pollution can worsen asthma symptoms, triggering wheezing, coughing, trouble breathing, and even leading to hospitalization in serious cases. Newspapers, websites, and TV news broadcasts often warn of so-called "ozone-advisory," "ozone-alert," or "ozone-action" days, when sensitive groups—those with asthma and other respiratory conditions—should stay indoors because potentially dangerous smog conditions are likely, U.S. News reported in 2010.

      Ozone is the primary ingredient in urban smog, generated when sunlight hits pollutants spewed by cars, chemical plants, industrial boilers, refineries, and other sources. It occurs naturally in the Earth's upper atmosphere, but when it's released at ground level, it becomes a harmful outdoor pollutant. Because sunlight abounds during summer months, summer is often a highly irritating time for the lungs of asthmatics, says LeRoy Graham, a pediatric pulmonologist based in Atlanta, Ga.