Short bursts of daily activity can lengthen life.

Short bursts of daily activity can lengthen life.

Short Bursts of Activity Have Big Benefits for Heart Health

Fitness Source: HealthDay Reporter

For all the couch potatoes out there, here’s some good news – short bursts of activity, as brief as one to three minutes, can significantly decrease the risk of heart attack, stroke, and early death. A recent study conducted in the United Kingdom and involving over 25,000 participants with wearable devices revealed that even everyday activities such as playing with children, gardening, and household tasks can provide health-enhancing benefits. The study is particularly encouraging for adults who are unable to engage in regular exercise.

Although even short bursts of activity produce health benefits, the longer the bouts, the better the outcomes. According to the researchers, people who regularly engaged in 5 to 10-minute bouts of activity had a 52% reduced risk of early death and a 41% reduced risk of heart attack and stroke compared to those who only moved in bouts of one minute or less. Those who regularly moved for 3 to 5 minutes or 1 to 3 minutes experienced a 44% and 34% reduced risk of early death, respectively.

Interestingly, the intensity of the activity also played a role in the health benefits observed. People who incorporated vigorous movement for at least 15% of each bout, which translates to about 10 seconds per minute, saw the greatest benefit. Even bouts of activity lasting less than a minute were associated with health benefits if they contained 15% or more vigorous movement.

Dr. Matthew Ahmadi, the lead researcher, noted that individuals don’t need to engage in specifically designated vigorous activities. By simply incorporating bursts of extra effort or pace lasting a few minutes into their daily activities, they can achieve health benefits. For those looking for an extra boost, adding vigorous intensity to these bursts can provide even greater benefits.

It is worth mentioning that fewer than 1 in 5 middle-aged adults regularly exercise, according to background notes from the study. The new findings suggest that any kind of activity, whether it be dancing, gardening, walking the dog, or even cleaning, can contribute to improved heart health.

Dr. Catherine Benziger, a member of the American College of Cardiology’s Prevention Council, emphasized the importance of moving more and sitting less. She encouraged people to find simple ways to incorporate activity into their daily routines, such as dancing while cleaning or taking short walks during television commercial breaks. Once individuals start incorporating activity into their lives, they can gradually increase the duration of their bouts to further improve their health.

The study’s results confirm that any amount of exercise is beneficial for heart health. Short bursts of activity, even during everyday tasks, can lead to cardioprotective adaptations, including improved blood pressure, blood sugar control, strengthened heart muscles, and reduced oxidative stress.

In conclusion, this study serves as a reminder that physical activity doesn’t have to be daunting or time-consuming. Engaging in short bouts of activity, even during everyday tasks, can have significant benefits for heart health. So, don’t hesitate to get up and move, and remember to enjoy the process!

Heart Disease Quiz: In the U.S., 1 in every 4 deaths is caused by heart disease. Test your knowledge!

Source: The Lancet Public Health