Those 2 minute walk breaks? They add up

Walk for two minutes. Repeat 15 times. Or walk for 10 minutes, three times. According to inspiring research, the benefits of longevity are almost the same. new study on physical activity patterns and longevity.

He found that exercise does not have to be long to be beneficial. It just has to happen often.

Most of us who are interested in health know that the federal exercise guidelines recommend moderate exercise for at least 30 minutes a day at least five times a week to reduce the risk of developing many diseases or premature death.

These guidelines also recommend building up those 30 minutes of daily exercise in sets of at least 10 minutes at a time.

The guidelines, first published in 2008, were based on the best exercise science available at the time, including several studies showing that if workouts were shorter than 10 minutes, they would not improve people’s aerobic fitness, i.e. their athletic endurance. .

But improving stamina is not the same as improving health.

So when scientists and government regulators recently began planning a major update to the 2008 exercise guides, they decided as part of their study to gather the latest research on exercise and how long exercise should last for health benefits.

To their some surprise, they found only a few relevant large-scale recent studies, and most of them relied on people’s notoriously unreliable memories of how active they were.

So, some scientists working on new exercise guidelines decided they needed to do some major new research themselves.

They started by looking for reliable and objective data on the exercise habits of ordinary people.

They found it in the National Health and Nutrition Survey, conducted annually for decades by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It details the lifestyle and health of tens of thousands of American men and women.

Since 2002, some NHANES members have been wearing accelerometers to accurately track how much and when they move throughout the day.

For the new study that was published this month in the Journal of the American Heart Association.The scientists selected data from 4,840 men and women over 40 who wore activity trackers.

Using the readings of the accelerometer, the scientists determined how many minutes a day each person devoted to moderate or vigorous physical activity. They defined moderate activity as essentially brisk walking, and vigorous activity, which was rare, as jogging-like workouts.

The researchers also looked at how long each session of physical activity lasted. If one session lasted more than five minutes, it was considered a “fit” of exercise. If it was shorter than five minutes, it was considered a sporadic physical activity, such as walking down a hallway or taking a short flight of stairs.

(The scientists originally planned to focus on 10-minute workouts, as is now recommended, but so few of the 4,840 people were active for 10 minutes at a time that the researchers reduced their definition of “exercise” to five minutes.)

Finally, they cross-checked death records to determine if the participants had died before 2011 and when.

Scientists have found that movement greatly affects life expectancy. Men and women who were the least physically active and engaged in moderate exercise for less than 20 minutes a day were at the highest risk of premature death.

The researchers found that those who moved more often, especially if they managed a total of about an hour of physical activity during the day, halved the risk of death.

It doesn’t matter how they accumulated those minutes. If people walked continuously for five minutes or longer, that is, during exercise, they reduced their risk of dying young.

But they got the same benefit if they walked from time to time in short but repetitive jerks, provided that they moved often.

“The bottom line is that any kind of physical activity is important,” says Dr. William Kraus, a Duke University professor who led the study with researchers at the National Cancer Institute.

“The little things people do every day, like walking from the car to the office or climbing stairs, “can and do increase the risk of illness and death,” he says.

Of course, this was an epidemiological study, which means it can only show that more physical activity is associated with a longer life, not that it directly makes people live longer.

The study was also short in terms of how long it followed people.

But the results, which will be reviewed by scientists and experts planning changes to formal exercise rules later this year, are encouraging, says Dr. Kraus.

“If you can’t go for a long walk,” he says, “a few short walks will probably do the same for you.”

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