Exercise recommendations to improve health and fight the adverse health effects of a sedentary lifestyle can be confusing. How much exercise do I need? How often should I exercise? How hard must I work out?
Current exercise guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise (a pace that makes difficult to carry a conversation) or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (the pace of a jog for most people) a week in increments of at least 10 minutes per session. Now, new research from Duke University School of Medicine in North Carolina and the National Cancer Institute suggests even brief (less than 10-minute) bursts of exercise throughout the day – walking up a few flights of stairs, for example – can improve health, as long as the physical activity is moderate or vigorous.
For this study, researchers analyzed data from 4,840 people over 40 involved in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2003 and 2006. Study participants wore accelerometers to measure physical activity and exertion. According to researchers, people who got less than 20 minutes of moderate or vigorous activity a day had the highest risk of death.