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Move More, Exercise Less?

Some people just love to go to the gym. They are affectionately called “gym rats.” But what if the gym is not your thing? New research shows that going to the gym is not the only way to get the health benefits of movement. Better yet, even many small spurts of activity throughout the day are hugely beneficial to our health!

When looking at insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control, researchers from Oregon State University concluded that “short bouts” of small amounts of activity, even as short as a minute, strung together throughout the day have the same benefit as exercising longer at the gym. Their research was published in the January issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion. Co-author of the study Brad Cardinal, PhD, echoed a key tenant of the Five to Thrive Plan: make movement a way of life.

Study participants wore accelerometers to measure every second of every activity throughout the day. They found that 43 percent of the study participants who had short bouts of daily activity met the 30-minute physical activity requirement set by the government. These same people who made movement a way of life were 89 percent less likely to have metabolic syndrome, of which insulin resistance is a major component. Metabolic syndrome increases heart disease risk and the risk of poor health in general.

Here are some examples of short bouts of activity: 

  • Shoveling snow versus using a snow blower 
  • Taking the stairs versus the elevator
  • Shopping at a mall versus online shopping
  • Parking further away from the door 
  • Standing at your desk while talking on the phone 
  • Walking around during half time at a sporting event 

Even little things make a difference like washing and chopping vegetables versus buying pre-sliced veggies or walking into a restaurant versus going through a drive through. It’s all a part of making movement a way of life.

This research is one more addition to the mounting evidence that everyday activity can help us stay fit and healthy. We just need to seize the opportunities whenever we can. As it turns out, little things do mean a lot, especially when combined and especially when it comes to physical activity!

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