UW-Extension Cooperative Extension
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Contact: Amy Rettammel
Entry Date: January, 2001
File Under: Health/Safety
SMALL STEPS CAN POINT THE WAY TO IMPROVED FITNESS
Madison - While the New Year may encourage many people to make a resolution to increase their physical fitness, starting an intensive exercise program - especially in the middle of a cold, dark winter - may be asking too much.
However, there's good news for people who want to change their lifestyle. Fitness experts now say people can increase their fitness by being physically active for segments of 10 minutes at a time throughout the day.
"For people who aren't currently physically active enough to gain health benefits -- and that's most Americans -- the idea of breaking up increased activity into 10-minute segments throughout the day may be more practical," says Amy Rettammel, an outreach specialist with University of Wisconsin-Extension.
Currently, more than 60% of American adults get less physical activity than is recommended. One out of four adults is not active at all. Experts recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily, at least five days of the week, or a total of 150 minutes per week.
"What's moderate?" Rettammel asks. "Walking a mile in 15 minutes, or walking like you're late for a bus is considered moderate activity."
A 1999 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association by Dr. Andrea Dunn of the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research in Dallas, Texas, compared the effects of a structured exercise program that includes getting all 30 minutes of physical activity at once versus a "lifestyle approach" that accumulates 30 minutes of moderate physical activity in short bouts throughout the day in overweight men and women who were previously sedentary.
After six months, both groups increased their physical activity and lowered their blood pressure and body fat percentages. When researchers followed up after 24 months, these health benefits remained.
Rettammel has these suggestions for working short bouts of physical activity into your day: