There are days Life is just too busy and I don’t know about you, but if I over sleep by much, there goes my exercise time. Again. I had been hearing a lot about “short burst” exercise vs “regular”. So I did the research and you’ll love what I found if your days are like mine. We are already aware of the benefits of exercise to our health. So, are short bursts of exercise just as effective as a standard, regular workouts?
According to a study completed by the National Cancer Institute and Duke University, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the answer is yes.
If short bursts of exercise add up to the recommended weekly total of 150 minutes, they are every bit as effective and can even add years to your life. Since I found that out, I haven’t missed a single day getting the exercise I need to stay fit and healthy. Short bursts fit my schedule nicely, and I get more sleep.
How Was the Data Gathered and Then Analyzed?
From 2003 through 2006, nearly 5,000 U.S. adults participated in the project as subjects of the National Health and Nutrition Survey. All test subjects were a minimum of 40 years old and when researchers studied the data, the question of whether or not short bursts of exercise are effective was answered beyond a doubt.
Each participant was given an Actigraph AM-7164 accelerometer to wear that monitored daily physical activity. This device kept track of the frequency and intensity of exercise for each subject. And then researchers analyzed the data as follows:
- Total minutes spent exercising, number of bursts lasting at least 5-minutes as well as bursts at least 10-minutes in duration.
- Comparisons were made between concentrated effort or shorter bursts of physical activity for the entire day.
- They concluded that all you really need to do to get your heart rate up enough for the most benefit is exercise for 5 – 10 minutes at a time.
- Available death records were reviewed through 2011 during the follow-up period of 6 ½ years, and 700 deaths had occurred.
Researchers sifted through all the evidence collected looking for any ties between total amount of activity and death. They also compared data to look for differences if you only took into account intense exercise that lasted longer than 5 or 10 minutes.
What those researchers determined is enough to make you want to grab your running shoes for a quick burst or two. There is a direct link between intense, short exercise periods and the chance to prolong a person’s life expectancy.
It was determined that of those 700 people who died during the follow-up period, if they had gotten a minimum of 30 total minutes per day of moderate to intense exercise on a regular basis they were less likely to have died by about a third.
Participants who averaged 60 to 99 minutes per day were approximately half as likely. Anyone with 100 or more minutes per day had a three-quarter chance of not dying. Those are the kind of odds and chances that ought to grab your attention immediately, if you plan on celebrating your 100th birthday in person.
The theory stayed firm regardless of whether the participant got their exercise in short, intense bursts during the day, or through more concentrated efforts.
Current Guidelines and A Few Suggestions
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as well as the American Cancer Institute both agree that 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise is all it really takes, you don’t need to sweat for a solid, intense hour every day to benefit from a workout.
As long as your “bursts” last 10 minutes, and you do them faithfully, you win. The real bottom line is ambition and effort, with those two things on your side you can’t help but succeed. Keeping it simple is a no fail fitness plan, especially if you always seem to be in a hurry. You don’t need to take time to dress in a special outfit to exercise nor have a special place to do it.
Following are a few examples of things most of us do every day. Done with a little “burst” of intensity, every one of them are turned into an exercise session.
- If your destination is within a reasonable distance, don’t drive, walk at a steady, fast pace whenever possible.
- Try to do things that take more physical activity when you’re out socially. Instead of a movie and dinner, why not a hike and a picnic?
- If you have time for your own chores, don’t pay someone else to do them. Gardening is more intense than it might look, and a 10-minute session with a rake or hoe can do wonders for your long-term health.
Researchers responsible for the study of burst benefits say all the results I’ve been talking about here need to be considered with a little caution. Cause and effect isn’t 100% proven because the lifestyle of participants was not considered, and this could have affected the results.
Everything from genetics to lack of proper medical care can raise the risk of an early death. But even so, if sticking to a schedule of approximately 3 burst sessions per day has a chance of increasing your life span, shouldn’t you be taking that seriously? I do.
Let us know your Thoughts!