So many of us have a hard time finding half an hour a day to work out, and if you get a half hour lunch it’s hard to exercise if you need to get to a gym, even an employee gym, get a workout in, and get back to your desk, let alone eat. You should not skip food to exercise, your body needs fuel to perform. A new study says you can exercise for 10 minutes or less several times throughout the day and reap the same benefits.
A study by Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise suggests that your body does get the benefits in shorter bursts as well. Current U.S. guidelines recommend Americans get 150 minutes of physical activity a week, with the activity accumulated in bouts of at least 10 minutes.
Boston researchers studied over 2000 men and women from 2008 to 2010 who are part of a larger study. The average age of subjects is 47 and about half are overweight. Activity levels were analyzed by wearing accelerometers for 8 days.
On average, participants engaged in half an hour of moderate- and vigorous-intensity exercise a day, of which approximately 19 minutes involved short bouts of activity less than 10 minutes, the data showed. Walking briskly, heavy cleaning, badminton and golf were considered moderate activities. Vigorous exercises included hiking, jogging, farming, shoveling and competitive sports such as tennis and soccer.
The subjects, on average, met the US guidelines in 10% of men and 15% of women, but when all exercise was included, including bursts of less than 10 minutes, 56% of men and 47% of women met the guidelines for 150 minutes a week. Men tend to exercise in shorter bursts more often, while women have less bouts of longer periods.
Compared with non-compliant subjects, all those who met the US weekly exercise guidelines, regardless of how the 150 minutes were accrued, had significantly lower triglycerides, waist circumferences and body mass indexes, and improved cholesterol scores, tests showed. Exercising had a stronger impact on cardiovascular risk factors in women than men, possibly because of physiological differences or unmeasured factors, researchers said.
Be aware that this does not measure exercise that does not involve legs or strength training, but it may give hope to a mostly sedentary world, that the 5 minute walk does make a difference, parking far away and walking a little extra helps, shopping helps, all those little things you do, add up. Can’t find a half hour? Take a few five minute walks. When you’re at work get a friend to walk down the halls and back for a few minutes, it will be better for you anyway.