University of Illinois Extension

A Little Exercise Can Go a Long Way

Carol Schlitt, Nutrition and Wellness Educator

The word is out! Even short periods of physical activity can promote better health. The results of this research give a positive approach to getting people out and on their feet.

Previous recommendations for 20, 30 or even 60 minutes of vigorous exercise several times a week discouraged many people.

But new studies show that exercising at a moderate intensity, for even short periods at a time, can help lower blood pressure and improve well-being - and that's good news for all of us.

The new physical activity recommendations have been made by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American College of Sports Medicine.

The CDC recommends that adults accumulate 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity almost every day. Those activities might include brisk walking, biking, swimming, or playing golf. Everyday activities like vacuuming, gardening and going up and down stairs could also be included in the total of physical activity.

The new recommendations also state that the 30 minutes of activity don't have to be done all at once. Three shorter periods of physical activity accumulated over the day can have the same effect on blood pressure, heart rate and blood cholesterol levels as one longer stint of exercise.

Now that we know that even small amounts of physical activity can provide health benefits, isn't now the time to get started?