“I’m too busy to exercise.” Sound familiar? I hear it all the time. Between work and family responsibilities, a social life, and the million-and-one tasks of daily living, it’s easy to feel as though you don’t have a minute to spare. How could you possibly carve out time for regular exercise? Public health officials recommend 30 minutes, 5 days a week as an exercise goal for health and fitness. If you’re sedentary, that may sound like a lot — but a recent study found that even 15 minutes a day of exercise may be beneficial. Taiwanese researchers studied over 400,000 men and women of all ages across an 8-year timespan. When previously inactive subjects exercised at a moderate intensity 15 minutes a day — or 90 minutes a week —risk of death from all causes decreased by 14% and life expectancy jumped by 3 years. For every additional 15 minutes a day of physical activity, risk of all-cause death decreased by 4% for both genders across all age groups. It’s a Start Any amount of exercise is better than no exercise at all, so getting 15 minutes a day is a great start; and if you don’t have time for a full 30-minute workout, squeezing in 15 minutes is worthwhile — but it’s not a miracle cure. Building up to at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-to-vigorous cardiovascular exercise — like walking, swimming, or bicycling — offers far more than a slightly longer life span. Increased energy and endurance, stronger muscles and bones, improved physical function, and better brain health are just a few of the benefits of getting the recommended amount of cardiovascular exercise each week. These fitness payoffs can dramatically increase your level of well-being and quality of life. Fitting in 15 – or More Fifteen minutes of exercise isn’t much. Here are a few ideas for making it happen:
- Replace your coffee break with a walking break.
- Ride the bus or catch the train. Users of public transit are much more likely to get the recommended amount of weekly physical activity.
- Ride your bike to work or walk — at least part of the way.
- Turn off the TV, power down the electronics, head outside, and bust a move.
- Make an after-dinner walk or active backyard play a fun family habit.
- Be social and active — meet friends for a hike, dancing, or basketball.
- Wen CP; Wai JP; Tsai MK; Yang YC; Cheng TY; Lee MC; Chan HT; Tsao CK; Tsai SP; Wu X, Minimum amount of physical activity for reduced mortality and extended life expectancy: a prospective cohort study. Lancet. 2011; 378(9798):1244-53
- Elsevier (2010, June 29). Public transit systems contribute to weight loss and improved health, study finds. Science Daily. Retrieved February 10, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100628203756.htm
- La Chapelle U, Frank L, Transit and Health: Mode of Transport, Employer-Sponsored Public Transit Pass Programs, and Physical Activity. Journal of Public Health Policy (2009) 30, S73–S94.doi:10.1057/jphp.2008.52