Why Even a Walk Around the Block Is a Good Idea
You already know that you need to exercise regularly (right?! Yes? OK, good). Specifically, the U.S. government recommends adults get at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity physical activity a week, and you may know that too. But you also know that some weeks, it can feel impossible to block out a couple of long gym sessions. Thankfully, some new research found that you may be able to enjoy the benefits of exercise even if you can’t get in a prolonged sweat session as often as you want.
Sound too good to be true? It’s not. A new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that accumulating short bursts of moderate to vigorous exercise can provide the same health benefits as sustained activity.
Researchers analyzed data from more than 4,000 people aged 40 and older who wore accelerometers to measure their physical activity and exertion. They also focused in on the lengths of participants’ bursts of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA). For many people, an example of moderate exercise would be a when you develop a light sweat and your breath quickens, but you’re not out of breath (think: a fast yoga flow or light jog), while vigorous exercise includes activities where you can’t say more than a few words without pausing for breath, like a HIIT class.
Not surprisingly, the researchers found a strong association between getting more total MVPA and a lower rate of mortality. What’s interesting is that in the people who got enough movement in, they discovered no difference in the lowered risk of all-cause mortality between people who had bouts of MVPA that were less than 5 minutes in length and those who moved for longer. In other words, it didn’t matter how people accumulated enough physical activity as long as they accumulated it at all.
Does this mean you should give up your gym membership or regular running route? No, especially if those activities are part of how you accumulate your 150 minutes of exercise per week, which you still need to get. What it does mean is that if you’re having a busy week and can’t make your usual fitness class, it’s OK if you can instead get moving for shorter bursts throughout the day.
At home, spend a few minutes going up and down the stairs or take the dog on an extra walk. If you commute via public transportation, get off a stop early and walk the rest of the way to work or home. At the office, take a brisk walk around the block before grabbing lunch at the cafeteria if you can’t venture further, or even just take the long way around your floor when you go to the bathroom or to refill your water glass. You can even work more physical activity into a vacation, by biking around a new city or picking a spot all the way at the end of the beach. The point is all physical activity is a good idea — and yes, a dance party in your living room counts.
Article Courtesy of Shape.com