It’s January 2013. Resolution season. Admit it, at least one of your new year’s resolutions has something to do with diet or exercise or weight loss. And you should be proud of that. With obesity more rampant than the current flu epidemic, I love it that so many people are focused on getting healthy.
So, good for you for signing up at the gym again or just moving your behind with the help of a video in front of the TV. Good for you, I say!
But the questions always loom. Am I doing enough exercise? Am I doing the right type of exercise? Do I need 30 minutes or 50 minutes or 150 minutes? Can I exercise in spurts or do I need to do more aerobic activity at a time for it ‘to count?’
These are great questions, and admittedly the wealth of information out there about exercise is somewhat confusing and often conflicting. The year 2012 was filled with news stories and research articles about exercise. Most reassured us that exercise is good for all that ails you, be it your mind or your body or anything in between. But there were a few articles that made us pause, namely those that suggested that for a small number of people, exercise might not be helpful and might even be harmful, and that at some point there may be diminishing returns.
Add to the mix of research on exercise a new study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise last week that brings more good news. Researchers near Boston studied roughly 2100 participants from the Framingham Heart Study and asked whether even very short bouts of moderate to vigorous physical activity (less than 10 minutes) might be associated with heart health benefits. All wore accelerometers (a device like a pedometer) to track physical activity. Here’s what the study showed:
- More physical activity is better and associated with lower risk factors for heart disease
- Sticking to the guidelines (> 150 minutes of physical activity per week) is strongly linked to lower risk factors for heart disease
- Even exercise done in bouts of 10 minutes or less is still beneficial.
The mantra up to now has been that you can break up your daily physical activity but to do at least 10 minutes or more at a time to make it count. This research suggests that you should still try to get your 150 minutes per week but that getting your exercise in small less-than-10-minute increments may be just as good as doing it in larger chunks.
Either way, this is more data to remind us of what we already know: that exercise really is good for you. So get up from your desk, take a 10 minute (or less!) break and get moving.
Here’s to sticking to our resolutions this year!
(My resolution this year? Yeah, that’s right, I’m planning to run a half marathon!)