No Time for Exercise? Couch Potatoes, Listen Up

No Time for Exercise? Couch Potatoes, Listen Up

Despite the evidence of the many health benefits associated with physical activity, one out of five Americans reports no physical activity at all. The most common excuse? Lack of time. Whether you’re deskbound, too busy, or just plain lazy, this research should get you off the couch… for at least ten minutes a day.

In May 2007, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published data showing that even 72 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week – that’s about ten minutes a day – has a significant effect on fitness, health, and the waistline. It had previously been hypothesized that exercise took time away from other daily activities, but the JAMA study disproved that theory showing no change in other usual or physical daily activity. So much for the “no time” excuse!

The research found no differences between racial/ethnic groups, weight, age, or baseline fitness – further proof that regular physical activity has similar benefits across a variety of individuals.

One significant observation across all groups was a decrease in waist circumference. It’s well substantiated that exercise without changes in diet has limited impact on weight and fat loss. Other studies have shown that exercise can reduce waist circumference, even without a reduction in weight. This is important given the increased health risks related to visceral adipose tissue, or belly fat (insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, etc.).

If you have only ten minutes a day to invest in physical activity, you’ll get the most out of your time with interval-based exercise, short bursts of intense effort separated by brief periods of rest (recovery). This time-efficient strategy is as effective as traditional endurance training, like forty-five minutes of cardio. Sorry, no more excuses!

Reference: Church, T., Earnest, C., Skinner, J. & Blair, S. (2007) “Effects of Different Doses of Physical Activity on Cardiorespiratory Fitness Among Sedentary, Overweight or Obese Postmenopausal Women With Elevated Blood Pressure: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” JAMA. 297.

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