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When it comes to exercise, every little bit helps

The common wisdom when it comes to exercise is that it must be sustained for at least 30 minutes to get any sort of value. Far too frequently in my practice I hear patients say, “I just don’t have the time to dedicate to an exercise routine.” But, as I’ve been saying for years, every little bit helps—and now there’s a major study that confirms this in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Gretchen Reynolds in The New York Times wrote about how the 2008 federal exercise guidelines recommending 30 minutes of sustained activity five times a week to reduce the risk of disease or premature death didn’t support the advantages of multiple, smaller bursts of activity because they didn’t seem to improve endurance. However the new study shows that moving does have a direct effect on longevity. In other words, the more you move, the more you cut your mortality risk.

The bottom line is that ALL physical activity counts. So here are some ideas to get you moving to improve your cardiovascular health.

  • Dogs are a physician’s best friend. Nothing beats a canine companion to make sure you get several 10-minute walks a day.
  • Park on the other side of the lot. Sneak in a short walk by parking in the furthest spot from the store or a few blocks from your destination.
  • How big is that big box store? The next time you shop in one of those huge stores, walk the perimeter of the store to check out the aisles before you start shopping. Bonus points if you go up and down every aisle.
  • Walk it off. Just had a nice meal at a restaurant? Take a stroll around the block before you head home. It will also make the trip home far more comfortable.
  • Take the stairs. If you’re able, making it a habit of taking the stairs will not only sneak in more exercise, it will help with your endurance.

And for those of you who go for a long walk every day—keep it up. Every type of exercise counts.