Little Things Add Up
Friday, June 26, 2015
Evidence suggests that the amount of activity is more important than the specific manner in which the activity is performed.
When this is understood, the principle of accumulation becomes very appealing. Short sessions of physical activity might fit better into a busy schedule than a single long session.
Accumulating 30 minutes of activity in short sessions brings substantial benefits. Activities may include walking upstairs instead of taking an elevator, walking instead of driving short distances, or pedaling a stationary cycle while watching TV.
Gardening, housework, raking leaves, or even playing actively with children can also contribute to a 30-minute-per day total if performed at an intensity equivalent to brisk walking.
One option is breaking daily exercise into two 15-minute sessions – walk 1 mile briskly in the morning, then mow the lawn for 15 minutes in the evening. One could alternately choose three 10-minute sessions – walk 10 minutes to work, walk another 10 minutes during your lunch break, and then ride your stationary bike for another 10 minutes in the evening.
Researchers evaluated two groups on the increase in their fitness level using two different regimens. One was 30 minutes of continuous activity, the other was three 10-minute exercise sessions.
They found that the multiple shorter sessions of exercise produced similar and significant improvement in fitness levels when compared with the continuous exercise.36
In another similar study, researcher Ebisu studied the effects of running on fitness and blood lipids. He found similar results in fitness level improvement but found that the high-density lipoprotein, the healthy cholesterol, increased more in the group who spread their exercise over the three times per day.37