Harvard Women's Health Watch

Short bouts of exercise are enough to manage weight

Can't spare an hour to exercise? Repeated bursts of 10 minutes of activity might be all you need to keep your weight under control, as long as you keep the intensity high. A study published in September in the American Journal of HealthPromotion compared differing durations and intensities of exercise in a group of 4,511 adults, ages 18 to 64, who were part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Participants wore accelerometers, which measured both the number and intensity of their steps over a seven-day period. The authors found that short bouts of higher-intensity exercise—like taking a brisk walk or climbing stairs—were associated with a lower body mass index (BMI). The authors say that, when it comes to exercise, every minute counts. Even though the ultimate goal should be to exercise for 150 minutes a week, working out in 10-minute bursts may be an effective—and more attainable—goal.

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