Just 10 Minutes of Physical Activity Multiple Times a Day Improves Health
- A lack of time or energy is often reported as a barrier to getting the recommended 30 or more minutes of exercise a day.
- An active lifestyle that includes engaging in physical activity for less than 10 minutes multiple times a day can have the same health benefits as more structured exercise for longer periods.
New research at Oregon State University suggests the health benefits of small amounts of activity -- even as small as one- and two-minute increments that add up to 30 minutes per day -- can be just as beneficial as longer bouts of physical exercise achieved by a trip to the gym.
The nationally representative study of more than 6,000 American adults shows that an active lifestyle approach, as opposed to structured exercise, may be just as beneficial in improving health outcomes, including preventing metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
"We encourage people to seek out opportunities to be active when the choice is available. For example, rather than sitting while talking on the phone, use this opportunity to get in some activity by pacing around while talking," said Paul Loprinzi, lead author of the study.
Perhaps just as importantly, the researchers found that 43 percent of those who participated in the "short bouts" of exercise met physical activity guidelines of 30 minutes day. In comparison, less than 10 percent of those in the longer exercise bouts met those federal guidelines for exercise.
"We are designed by nature as beings who are supposed to move. People get it in their minds, if I don't get that 30 minutes, I might as well not exercise at all. Our results really challenge that perception and give people meaningful, realistic options for meeting the physical activity guidelines,"said Brad Cardinal, a professor of exercise and sport science and co-author of the study.
For example, Cardinal said instead of driving half a mile, try biking or walking the same distance; instead of using a riding lawn mower, use a push lawn mower. Instead of sitting through TV commercials, try doing some sit-ups, push-ups, or jumping jacks during the commercial breaks; and instead of sitting and being a spectator at a child's sporting event, try walking around during the halftime break.
"In our society, you will always be presented with things that entice you to sit or be less active because of technology, like using a leaf blower instead of a rake," Cardinal said. "Making physical activity a way of life is more cost-effective than an expensive gym membership. You may be more likely to stick with it, and over the long term, you'll be healthier, more mobile and just feel better all around."
The above story is based on the January 28, 2013 news release by Oregon State University.
The research has been published in the current issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion:
Loprinzi PD, Cardinal BJ. Association between biologic outcomes and objectively measured physical activity accumulated in ≥10-minute bouts and <10-minute b="" bouts.=""> Am J Health Promot. 2013 Jan;27(3):143-51. doi: 10.4278/ajhp.110916-QUAN-34810-minute>