10 Minutes at a Time? Every Minute Counts

Fewer than one out of four Americans meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for both aerobic exercise and muscle-strengthening established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Maybe you would love to designate thirty minutes to an hour each day for exercise, but you have enough trouble finding time to finish your errands and fulfill obligations. You don’t have to knock out all of your minutes in a single session, however. According to the 2nd edition of Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, you can count any bit of physical activity towards your daily and weekly totals.

What are the current physical activity guidelines for adults?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently released a 2nd edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Here’s a breakdown of different activity levels for adults according to the update.

  • Inactivity means not getting any physical activity beyond moving during normal daily activities. Walking to the kitchen, the car, or your mailbox doesn’t count.
  • Insufficiently active means that you get less than 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity, or a combination of the two each week.
  • You are active if you get 150 – 300 minutes of moderate activity in a week.
  • Highly active means that you get more than 300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week.

Adults need a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity: an average of 30 minutes over the course of 5 days, or just over 20 minutes over 7 days. This is the point at which you start gaining substantial health benefits.

The more physical activity you engage in, the greater the health benefits. According to the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines, research has not established an upper limit for physical activity at which additional health benefits cease to occur.

In addition to aerobic exercise, adults need muscle-strengthening activities for all major muscle groups at least two days a week.

Every minute counts, not just 10 minutes at a time.

The first edition of Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans introduced in 2008 established that as long as you are physically active for ten minutes at a time, those minutes count towards your overall total minutes. Anything less than ten minutes wouldn’t contribute to meeting your physical activity goals.

The 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines update to the 2008 guidelines does away with the requirement for physical activity to be completed in 10-minute intervals. In other words, any time that you are physically active counts towards your overall total minutes.

“The 2018 Advisory Committee concluded that bouts of any length contribute to the health benefits associated with the accumulated volume of physical activity. Even a brief episode of physical activity like climbing up a few flights of stairs counts”.

You don't have to knock out all of your exercise at once. Every bit of physical activity counts towards your daily total! #GetMoving #30MinutesEveryDay #10MinutesAtaTime #EveryMinuteCounts #StayHealthy Click To Tweet

Some people have an all-or-nothing mentality. If they think that they can’t exercise long enough to meet the minimum, they won’t exercise at all. Understanding that every bit of physical activity contributes to your total minutes – and to your health – could encourage people to be more active.

Physical activity is important

Physical activity is absolutely essential for good health. Regular exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight, it’s good for your mental and physical health, and it can help decrease your risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain types of cancer.

New benefits mentioned in the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines update include improved sleep and a decreased risk for falls or injuries from falls. The update also emphasizes that sedentary living is harmful to our bones, joints, muscles, and our overall health.

According to the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, children and adults spend 55% of their time awake sitting or being sedentary.

Every minute counts, so make a point to be more active! Keep track of your minutes so you can see your progress. Download an app on your phone that tracks your activity levels. Wear a fitness device that allows you to record your exercise sessions. Technology is an easy way to review your progress, but you can also log your activity manually.

Talk to your doctor to see what types of physical activity, and how much physical activity, is right for you. Schedule an appointment with a MANA physician today.