If you’ve got an Apple watch, you’re familiar with the little beeping noise that it makes when it wants to remind you that you’ve been sitting at your desk for way too long and you need to walk around. Given the growing body of research that shows that prolonged sitting is extremely bad for you, you might be tempted to heed its warning cry. But whilst completing your pointless loop around the office, you can’t help but wonder, “Is this really doing anything for my health?”
Apparently, it is. Since 2008, federal guidelines have reminded us that exercising for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week, is crucial to staying young and healthy. For a long time, however, the accepted opinion was that those 30 minutes needed to be completed all at once, rather than in multiple intervals spread out throughout the day. It was generally believed that moderate‐to‐vigorous physical activity resulted in substantial health benefits only if it took place for 10 minutes or more.
But, according a new study, which was published this month in the Journal of the American Heart Association, taking a two-minute walk 15 times a day is just as beneficial to your longevity as a 15-minute walk twice a day or all 30 minutes at once. (It’s also the Single Best Way to Power Through Your Mid-Afternoon Slump.)
For the study, researchers analyzed data from 4,840 men and women past the age of 40 who had worn accelerometers to track their daily movements since 2002. They compared this data with how many of the men and women lived through 2011 and found that those who managed to get in an hour of physical activity a day were half as likely to die as those moved around for 20 minutes or less per day. But it didn’t seem to matter whether they did 30 minutes on the treadmill or short bursts of activity like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or just stretching your legs around the office in between projects.
“The message is that all physical activity counts,” Dr. William Kraus, a professor at Duke University who conducted the study, told The New York Times.“The little things that people do every day can and do add up and affect the risk for disease and death,”
The research is in keeping with another recent study that found that taking short walks every day significantly reduces the risk of heart failure in post-menopausal women, as well as another study that found that sporadic bursts of light physical activity was basically as beneficial to longevity as a sweaty session at the gym.
Now, granted, prolonging your life and getting fit are not one and the same, and if you want James McAvoy’s abs, you’ll still need to push your endurance and get in at least a solid half hour of intense cardio. But if you’re aim is simply to maintain a healthy lifestyle and delay the onset of age, it’s nice to know that those two-minute walks are actually worth something.
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