Walking for Just 2 Minutes Can Improve Your Health—If You Do It at the Right Time of Day
Here's how minimal exercise can offer maximal benefits.
Getting regular exercise is foundational to your health, slashing your risk of chronic illness and adding years to your life. It's recommended to aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, though the benefits only grow with each minute of added movement. However, researchers drilling down deeper into the benefits of minimal exercise are also finding encouraging results. In particular, a new study suggests that getting just minutes of walking exercise can improve your health significantly—assuming you do it at the right time. Read on to learn how this one staggeringly simple change can transform your health in just two minutes flat.
Walking is a great way to get regular exercise.
Any type of physical activity can have a positive effect on your health, lowering your chances of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, and more. Increasingly, research suggests that walking briskly—even for short periods of time—can provide a simple and accessible way to improve your health at any fitness level.
"Walking is a foundational human movement, and its benefits have been proven through centuries," says Andrew White, CPT, a certified personal trainer and the owner of Garage Gym Pro. "It engages multiple muscle groups, from the legs to the core, without putting undue stress on the joints. Walking is a weight-bearing exercise, which can help improve bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis."
White adds that walking is also beneficial to your heart health. "When we walk, the heart pumps faster, which increases blood circulation, providing more oxygen and nutrients to cells and aiding in the removal of waste products. This enhanced circulation helps in maintaining good cardiovascular health," he tells Best Life.
Even a two-minute walk can help transform your health.
Researchers have taken note of the impressive benefits of walking, and some have made it their mission to determine exactly where those benefits begin.
One recent study published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology found that walking for 30 to 45 minutes daily (roughly 4,000 steps) can significantly improve heart-related and all-cause mortality.
Years prior, a 2008 study found that just 15 minutes of walking after a meal could aid in digestion and help lower one's blood sugar.
Now, a new study published in the journal Sports Medicine has found that people can enjoy some of those same benefits by taking a walk as short as two minutes long—as long as they get moving shortly after a meal.
The meta-analysis looked at seven different studies on the subject and concluded that subjects who took light walks for two to five minutes after eating saw lower blood sugar levels compared to people who sat down or stood.
RELATED: 6 Best Walking Workouts for Weight Loss.
You should walk within 60 to 90 minutes after eating.
The study subjects who took short walks after eating experienced more gradual changes in their blood sugar, helping them avoid blood sugar spikes which can in some people trigger insulin resistance—a precursor to diabetes.
But the researchers noted that there's a window of time in which walking is most effective in helping to regulate blood sugar. By moving your body within 60 to 90 minutes after a meal, you'll experience optimal results.
Those short walks also add up, experts say.
According to a study published by the Journal of the American Heart Association, it doesn't matter how you break up your exercise. Taking 15 two-minute walks in a day is equivalent to taking two 15-minute walks as far as your health and longevity are concerned.
This may help some people take those initial steps toward integrating fitness into their busy schedules. While you may not be able to devote an uninterrupted portion of your day to exercise, any moderate to vigorous exercise can help you on your way to better health.
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Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research, and health agencies, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. When it comes to the medication you're taking or any other health questions you have, always consult your healthcare provider directly.