Community//

Exercise and Health: How Much Is Enough?

The American Cancer Society recommends that cancer patients aim for 150 minutes, or 2.5 hours, of physical activity a week.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and though they are reviewed for adherence to our guidelines, they are submitted in their final form to our open platform. Learn more or join us as a community member!

The American Cancer Society recommends that cancer patients aim for 150 minutes, or 2.5 hours, of physical activity a week. Broken down over seven days, this amount of time averages out to about twenty-two minutes a day. If you think about it this way, this is an incredibly doable goal. What’s even better is that those twenty-two minutes don’t have to be done at once.

In fact, research suggests that shorter bouts of exercise may have greater health benefits than longer endurance workouts. A 2016 study by Martin Gibala and his colleagues at McMaster University found that in previously sedentary individuals brief, but strenuous (10 minutes total, with only three 20 second episodes of flat-out exertion) exercise bouts three times a week for 12 weeks resulted in similar improvements in physiological and biological measures of fitness compared to those who exercised 45 minutes a week for twelve weeks.

It seems that benefits are also derived from bouts of intense exercise even as short as 4 seconds every hour! A study published last week by Edward Coyle and his team from the Human Performance Laboratory at University of Texas at Austin found that hourly 4 second bursts of maximal intensity cycle sprints interrupting prolonged sitting lowered the next day’s biological response to a high fat meal, decreasing markers of cardiovascular risk (triglyceride spike).

Previous research found the same effect for three 10-minute walks compared to a 30-minute walk in adults with borderline hypertension. The shorter walks had the same effect on blood pressure, but unlike the thirty-minute walk, they also reduced spikes in blood pressure, and so they had greater implications for overall health. We also know that simply sitting less and moving more is the ideal approach, as research suggests that:

  • walking more and sitting less is even healthier for you than exercising an hour a day if you are then sedentary for fourteen hours
  • replacing thirty minutes of sedentary time with light activity will reduce mortality risk
  • short bouts of activity will result in reduced inflammation and other hallmark biological factors driving cancer development
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Think of Exercise Like Potato Chips in 2019 to Eliminate Barriers
Community//

Think of Exercise Like Potato Chips in 2019 to Eliminate Barriers

by Michele Mehl
Well-Being//

New Guidelines Say You Don’t Have to Work out as Long as You Think, but There’s a Big Catch

by Julia Naftulin
Woman standing on top of mountain looking at city below
Community//

Why Cardio is Good For Your Brain

by Patrick W. Dunne

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.