Not getting time for the hour-long physical workout daily? There is nothing to be disheartened. Why not break the hour-long schedule into smaller ones? For example, take 2-3 minute walking breaks 15 times or do 10-minute physical workouts 3 times a day. The result will be the same. These short bouts of exercises ultimately add to your fitness goals.
This inspiring result has been recently published by the Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA) implying that short bouts do matter in enhancing physical fitness. This somehow quashes the previous federal guidelines that daily at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical workouts 5 weeks a day are essential to prevent chronic lifestyle ailments and premature mortality.
The Federal guidelines also suggested that those 30 minutes of workouts should be accumulated from 3 bouts of 10-minute duration. These guidelines first established in 2008 were based on the best information available that period which highlighted that workout duration less than 10 minute does not contribute to aerobic fitness or enhancing endurance.
The need for updated physical activity guidelines:
It is during the planning of updated physical activity guidelines when scientists and regulators chose to accumulate latest studies about exercise bouts and its long-lasting benefits. They got the most reliable data from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003-2006 and death records in 2011.
The data accumulated are based on various health and behavior indicators. This included physical activity and self-reported diagnosis of various health conditions like coronary artery disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.
A research study headed by Dr. Wiiliam E. Kraus, MD of the Duke University School of Medicine assessed 4840 people aged 40 years or more with the available data from NHANES. It was found that 700 participants passed away by 2011.
The study arrived at a prime conclusion that increased amount of daily workouts reduces the risk of developing a disease and premature death. If the duration of daily workouts can be split into small schedules of moderate activities the benefits will be same.
Mayo Clinic defines an activity to be of moderate intensity if it quickens your breath after approximately 10 minutes making you sweat lightly leaving your energy level just to carry out a conversation.
Other important findings of the study showed:
- People engaged in less than 20 minutes of daily vigorous exercises are at a higher risk of dying prematurely.
- Those who exercise about an hour throughout the day can reduce the risk of premature death by nearly 57%.
- But the most important finding was that those exercising at a moderate level carried the least risk of dying prematurely. The risk gets reduced by 76%.
Clinical implications of the JAHA study report:
- Reformation of future physical activity guidelines while advising individuals about proper physical activities.
- That total physical activity matters most should be the key message.
- Medical practitioners and clinicians can promote multiple shorter bouts or a long single bout of activity to adults helping them to reach the target of 150 min. of exercises per week.
- Practitioners can encourage the lethargic individuals at a high-risk of developing chronic disease or premature death to get into this flexible exercising mode instead of a tedious one time exertion.
- Practitioners can also guide individuals to keep a track of the duration of frequent exercising and sum it up at the end of the day. Suggesting maintaining a physical activity journal would keep the individuals motivated.
Exercises need not be prolonged but must be frequent:
Now it is the turn of middle-aged couch potatoes to get out of the chair and engage in frequent short bouts of physical exercises. Dr. Jessie X. Fan, PhD and professor of family and consumer studies at the University of Utah also analyzed NHANES data of 4511 adults aged between 18 and 64 and observed similar benefits of short bursts of exercise.
Dr. Fan does not change the set guidelines of 150 min. exercise per week but suggests different ways of accumulating it. It may be anything like climbing stairs quickly, taking short 3-4 minutes break for brisk walking, parking the car far from the destination, walking back home at a brisk pace.
Why not mix your activities to avoid monotony? You can also plug in your earphones and enjoy a high-energy dancing activity for few minutes. Those engaged in desk job can set a timer and engage in 2-4 minutes of energetic activity at an interval of 30 or 60 min.
Whatever may be the activities, moderate or vigorous, they ought to be frequent. This implies more you shake your body better are your chances of longevity and disease prevention. If you exercise vigorously for 2 hours in two intervals one day and skip the next day, it doesn’t seem to be beneficial. You ought to be on your toes all throughout the day. If short bouts of activity are equally good, there can be no excuse for not exercising.