In a new study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, researchers found that even brief physical activity exceeding a certain level of intensity can have as same positive an effect on weight as the current recommendation of 10 or more minutes at a time.
How much exercise do we really need?
The current physical activity guideline for Americans is to get at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) a week, which can be accumulated in eight to 10 minute periods. This translates roughly to a walking speed of about five kilometres per hour.
However, taking the stairs and parking at the far end of the parking lot are choices that can add up and can make a positive health difference, the researchers note.
Measuring activity and waistlines
Study participants, drawn from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, included 2, 202 women and 2,309 men. They wore accelerometers for seven days which captured data on their physical activity. Researchers compared measurements of physical activity based on length of time and intensity and used body mass index (BMI) to measure weight status.
The skinny on the study
Results showed that for women, each daily minute spent in higher-intensity short bouts was related to a decrease of .07 BMI.
Looking at it another way, each such minute offset the calorie equivalent of 180 grams. This means that when comparing two women that are 1.67 metres tall, the woman who regularly adds a minute of brisk activity to her day will weigh 230 grams less.For women, each daily minute spent in higher-intensity short bouts was related to a decrease of .07 BMI.
"What we learned is that for preventing weight gain, the intensity of the activity matters more than duration," says Jessie X. Fan, professor of family and consumer studies at the University of Utah.
So take the stairs, brisk walk down the supermarket aisles, try cleaning your home a little faster than usual and you'll soon wattle down your waistline without having to put in extra time at the gym!
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