Too busy to go to the gym and exercise? Too riddled with deadlines to take those 10,000 steps a day for good health? Take heart. New research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that you don’t need long hours of exercise a day to stay healthy. Short bursts of exercise a day can lower your risk of death and disease.
The study’s main author, professor William E. Kraus, M.D., of the Duke University School of Medicine says that for about three decades, health guidelines stated that moderate to vigorous activity could lead to better health. But there was one condition: the activity should take at least 10 minutes. But why do experts recommend less than 10-minute exercises, like skipping the elevator and taking stairs, and parking farther from one’s destination?
Kraus’s research showed that every little bit of exercise helps. Even short trips up and down stairs can count as accumulated exercise minutes. They can cut down health risks as long as they are done moderately or vigorously. Moderate exercise means brisk walking at a pace that makes it difficult to converse. Kraus explained that accelerating the pace and breaking into a jog serve as vigorous exercise for most people.
This is good news for many Americans, who usually do their moderate or vigorous exercise in short installments. That’s because it’s more convenient to accumulate 30 minutes of exercise a day than go around the block for half an hour.
Kraus and his colleagues from the National Cancer Institute studied data from 4,840 people aged 40 years old and above who joined the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2003 and 2006. Participants wore accelerometers to measure activity and exertion. A national database showed that 4,140 participants were still alive in 2011.
Researchers discovered that participants who got less than 20 minutes of moderate or vigorous activity a day were at the greatest risk of death. Those who exercised 60 minutes a day reduced their risk of death by as much as 57 percent. Getting at least 100 minutes of moderate or vigorous activity a day, on the other hand, gave the biggest health benefit. It lowered the risk of death by 76 percent.
People with an eight-hour office schedule whose sedentary lifestyle allows little time for physical activity can squeeze in a few minutes of exercise during their one-hour lunch break. Here’s how:
- Magic carpet ride — While sitting on the chair, cross your legs, and let your feet rest beneath your ankles. Position your hands on the armrests. Lift your body a few inches from the chair. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds. Rest, and then repeat five times.
- Abdominal exercises — You don’t have to leave your desk for this. Hold your ab muscles for 30 seconds. Then repeat a few times.
- Wall slides — To boost your stamina and endurance, stand with your back against the wall. Slide down while bending the knees. Stop when your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
- Chair dips — The military itself recommends this strength-enhancing exercise. Sit on your chair. Put your hands on the edge of your chair, by your thighs. Push your buttocks forward until it’s slightly off the chair. Bend your arms and lower yourself to around six inches under the seat. Straighten your arm to rise back up. Repeat 10 times.
- Calf raising — Tone your calf with this simple exercise. Stand near your desk or close to the wall so you can put your hand on a surface if you need balance. Raise your heels as far as possible from the floor. Gradually bring them back down to the floor. Repeat 15 times. You can add to the challenge by holding something heavy while exercising.
Investing even a little time on exercise gives you a lot of dividends. And it won’t cost you a single penny. After all, you can’t put a price on health. It’s something you just can’t have enough of.
Read Health.news for more daily coverage of health-enhancing news.