Staying active is easier than you think

Sometimes, the thought of exercising can be about as appealing as eating a bowl of broccoli.

You know it's good for you... but it's hard to work up your "appetite"!

And when you start breaking a sweat, breathing harder, and feeling your heart pounding in your chest, being active can feel downright uncomfortable -- at least until those feel-good brain chemicals known as endorphins kick in.

But according to a pair of new, large-scale studies, you don't have to get the wind knocked out of you in order to reap the benefits of exercise -- because even small amounts of everyday activities that get you moving can reduce your chances of dying from pretty much anything.

That could mean taking a leisurely stroll... or even just cleaning the house!

In one of the studies, published in The Lancet, researchers asked 130,000 people in 17 different countries about their activity levels -- including low-key activities like household chores, on-the-job movement, and walking to work -- and then followed them for almost seven years.

By the end of the study, it turned out that those who were active at least 150 minutes a week -- which translates to about a half hour of activity a day, five days a week -- reduced their risk of death from any cause by 28 percent, compared to those who weren't.

In the second study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, over 15,000 older adults with heart disease reported the number of hours they devoted to physical activity each week, and then they were followed for up to four years.

By the end of the study, it turned out that those who did a modest amount of mild-intensity activity each week -- such as yoga, strolling, or light housework -- had LOWER mortality than those who did little or no activity at all.

And the benefits were most pronounced for those who went from being sedentary to adding just a little get-up-and-go to their lives. That's right -- SMALL bumps in activity led to LARGE dips in mortality risk.

Whether you feel inspired to tend your garden... organize the junk in your spare room... or give your car a wash... anything that gets you on your feet and moving around can help.

Of course, if you're up for doing more vigorous activity -- running, swimming, or aerobics -- you'll only increase the benefits to your health.

And staying active won't just make it less likely you'll wind up six feet under earlier than you'd like -- you'll also feel a whole lot better while you're living and breathing.

Studies have shown that regular physical activity can help you sleep more soundly... feel less depressed... keep your weight in check... and even protect your brain from dementia.