Although elevating your heart rate for a minimum of 20 consecutive minutes allows you to achieve an aerobic effect that has several health benefits, many studies have shown that even very light doses of exercise that do not even cause you to break a sweat may be valuable to your health as well.
The latest study, conducted by Kentucky’s Bellarmine University, concluded that if individuals spend more time off their butt than on the couch each day, their blood fat and insulin levels will probably be at healthy levels even if the individual does not regularly engage in some form of specific workout sessions. Regularly engaging in some form of activity that stimulates the body to burn calories and engage muscle movement such as yard work, walking, hiking and cleaning the house will provide several physical and mental health benefits.
A Little Physical Activity Goes a Long Way
According to professor Paul Loprinzi, one of the lead researchers behind the study, the results show that swapping out sedentary activities for ones that involve at least a little bit of movement can have a big impact on your health. He said that these changes can be as simple as standing at your desk to work a few times throughout the day instead of sitting the whole time, or pacing while you’re talking on the phone.
When you’re not at work, you can engage in light exercise by doing things like gardening, performing household chores, sitting on an inflatable exercise ball instead of the couch to watch TV, playing exercise video games like Wii Fit, going for a bike ride at a relaxed pace, or even playing a musical instrument.
In order to conduct the study, the researchers had over 5,500 adults wear accelerometers designed to measure their levels of physical activity. Disappointingly, roughly half of the subjects failed to meet the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s guideline of 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week, and also spent more waking hours sitting or lying down than moving around.
You can meet the CDC’s physical activity guideline by performing activities like brisk walking, medium-paced biking or doubles tennis for 150 minutes per week. Alternatively, you can also meet the CDC’s guidelines by engaging in vigorous exercise for just 75 minutes per week. Examples of vigorous exercise include mountain biking, running, swimming laps and aerobic dancing.
It’s important to note that the types of activities examined in the study, such as gardening or playing an instrument, aren’t intense enough to count toward either quota set by the CDC. However, these types of activities are still far more physically beneficial than watching TV, according to the researchers.
Spending too much time sitting down, according to other studies conducted lately, increases the risk of many serious illness and conditions including colon cancer, breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.
Small Amounts of Physical Activity: The Bottom Line
A new study reveals that even if you don’t engage in regular physical exercise, you can improve or maintain your health simply by swapping out sedentary activities for ones that include even a little movement, such as pacing your house while you talk on the phone.
The full text of the study can be found online in Preventive Medicine.