Little Things Add Up Big

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Most of us slow down a bit during the winter months, exercise-wise.   It’s part of our genetic makeup - shorter days with less natural light and colder temperatures encourage our bodies to “bear down” and hibernate a little.   But bear with it - during these slower times of the year, it’s the little things that count.   Thirty minutes of moderate physical activity each day, such as walking, is recommended for optimal health.   But according to a Stanford University research study*, three ten-minute bouts of walking during the day may provide the same benefits as a single half-hour session.   One of the possible benefits mentioned involves the “cool down” period, where your heart rate remains elevated for up to 30 additional minutes after you have completed your exercise period.   Three ten-minute exercise sessions means three cool-down sessions as well, potentially increasing the total length of time your heart rate is elevated throughout the day.   The California Department of Health and Human Services has also published a list of other little things you can do during your day to increase activity as part of your daily business, including estimated calorie-burn counts.

Here are some examples you may be able to implement around the workplace:

Calories burned
Taking elevator up, 3 flights <1 calorie
Walking up stairs, 3 flights 15 calories
30 minutes on phone, seated 4 calories
30 minutes on phone, standing 20 calories
Park close to building, 10 seconds walk or less <1 calorie
Park far enough away for >2 min walk to building 8 calories

Remember, whatever activities you fit into your winter schedule, consistency is the most important one.   Three days a week of moderate exercise may be more beneficial for your body than one day a week of even very intense exercise.   Your muscles will recover from the intense exercise within 48 hours, and within 72 hours will already have begun to atrophy, negating your fitness gains by the time the next week rolls around.   Not every day has to be a marathon day - remember, the little things can make a big difference.

- Jeff Koelemay

*Published in the American Journal of Cardiology, Vol. 65, 1990.


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