We all have moments where we find ourselves needing to take a breath while rushing around during our busiest days. Maybe you ran to catch an elevator before it closed or chased your grandkid around the playground. Well, it turns out these short-yet-intense bursts of physical exertion can help us all stay fit.
A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine says the "high-intensity incidental physical activity" peppered throughout our days is more beneficial than we may think — and if we add in some extra it can greatly benefit our health.
“This type of regular, incidental activity that gets you huffing and puffing is likely to produce health benefits,” researcher, Emmanuel Stamatakis, told The Conversation. "Even if you do it in 30-second bursts, spread over the day.” Stamatakis lists more examples like “vacuuming with vigor” or walking uphill as the key to getting the recommended 30 minutes of daily physical activity.
As we repeat those short moments of strenuous activity, our body adapts and our overall fitness improves. “Even for those of us who are the least fit, brief sessions of 20 seconds of stair-climbing (60 steps) repeated three times a day on three days per week over six weeks can lead to measurable improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness,” says Stamatakis.
While this means most of us are getting mini-workouts in without even realizing it (yay!), there are also plenty of easy ways to consciously include more exercise in our daily lives. Try parking farther away in the lot, so the walk to the store is a little longer (ideally 330 feet) or taking your dog to an off-leash park where you can jog alongside him for 30 to 90 second stretches. Anything that gets your heart rate up just a bit more throughout the day can make a big difference.
This is pretty great news for anyone who dreads going to the gym — instead of forcing yourself to spend an hour on a treadmill or elliptical, you can just take the stairs! Chances are, mindfully adding these spurts of activity into your day will help you feel healthier and happier, too.