If we engage in conversation with nearly anyone, it can quickly be concluded that we all could use more free time, and everyone seems to have a full schedule. Some people may even boldly state that time is more precious than money. Discretionary time seems to disappear due to our varied responsibilities, and it seems that our free time is consumed by our daily and weekly tasks of family life, career, continuing education, household chores, social life, etc. Thus, finding exercise time might end up on the back burner of our agenda.
There is no shortage of health and fitness information available. However, because of time constraints in a busy life, adjusting our attitude toward exercise might be what’s really needed. If a full exercise session cannot be found in a busy schedule, consider a day filled with multiple short exercise sessions and physical activity. Do multiple short exercise sessions add up and improve health? Is there merit to taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking the car farther from the store? Seriously, do these small amounts of physical activity actually improve our health? The answer is “YES.” The daily 30 minutes of cardiorespiratory exercise as recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine can be accumulated in smaller amounts of time using traditional exercise or a variety of physical activities including yard work, daily ambulation and even childcare.
The benefits of accumulating 30 minutes of exercise each day in 10 minute blocks almost sounds too good to be true, but two research articles in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise reported improved health through accumulated exercise. Research has addressed the idea of accumulating three 10-minute exercise sessions a day. In a 2006 study, participants accumulated 30 minutes of jogging performed five days per week for a total of four weeks. The results of this study reported reduced total cholesterol and LDL-C (bad cholesterol) with increased HDL-C (good cholesterol) with no changes in diet or body weight. Another study from 2004 demonstrated that just a single day of accumulated exercise (three, 10-minute bouts) can lead to short-term decreases in triglycerides. Also, studies targeting accumulation of daily steps have shown that this approach to an active lifestyle is effective. Studies such as these provide evidence that accumulating short periods of exercise or physical activity can lead to important health changes.
When finding time to exercise is a challenge, research has demonstrated that accumulating short amounts of exercise that total 30 minutes actually does promote health-related fitness and can reduce chronic diseases associated with sedentary lifestyle. That’s why making conscious decisions to be physically active during each day is an important, including that simple decision to walk up the stairs rather than take the elevator.
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