There could be a new and easy solution for keeping yourself healthy even when it feels like you do not have time to exercise. The evidence for shorter bursts of activity has been coming out for some time.
But now there is research revealing that even small workouts can have great benefits. They are called exercise snacks. And they are somewhere between a short walk to your water cooler at the office and high-intensity interval training.
These micro-workouts are challenging enough to get your heart rate up, but they only take a minute or less—like 20 seconds of stair climbing, squat jumps, burpees or a quick 60-second run down your block.
These short-and-sweet micro-workouts help create cardiorespiratory fitness, a major indicator of total health. Increasing this cardiorespiratory fitness can decrease your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
One study published in the Journal of Physiology, studied inactive young people who did 20-second bike “sprints” in which they went as fast as possible. These participants repeated these micro workouts three times each day, separated by one or four hours of rest. After just six weeks, their cardio fitness was better by 9%—close to the 13% increase another group got by doing the same exercise in a 10-minute session.
Other research released in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise discovered that sedentary but healthy people got better cardiorespiratory fitness by just doing 20 seconds of stair climbing three times per day for right under a month.
The reason these micro-workouts work is not yet known, but they could improve your heart’s pumping capacity and transporting of oxygen through your body. They also seem to improve people’s insulin sensitivity and decrease triglycerides.
Preliminary research has also showed that among people who usually sit for eight hours each day, those who did five 4-second sprinting exercise every hour during their workday (for a grand total of 160 seconds of exercise) had 31% less triglyceride levels and 43% more body-fat metabolism the day after. How’s that for a satisfying exercise?
Author: Blake Ambrose