If you keep up with health and fitness news, you probably don’t need another reason to be active. Most people already know that exercise can help you lose weight; manage your blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels; and lower your risk for serious heart problems. But did you know that even a small amount of physical activity makes a big difference? A new study from Kaiser Permanente in Southern California has found that just a little bit of exercise can slash your risk for heart disease, diabetes and other chronic conditions–often by more than half. Read on to find out more.
This study looked at over 600,000 people with an average age of 49. When they had appointments with their healthcare providers, they were asked how much physical activity they did every week. Based on their answers, the researchers split them into three groups:
- Active: At least 150 minutes of moderate or hard exercise each week
- Irregularly Active: Less than 150 minutes of exercise each week
- Inactive: No exercise
They found that people in the first two groups had much lower blood glucose and blood pressure levels than those in the third group. This means that people getting only a few minutes of exercise each week had a lowered heart disease and diabetes risk, just like the people who were very active.
What this study means for you
The major takeaway from this article is that you should get as much exercise as you can, even if that’s only a little bit each week. Though 150 minutes of regular, moderate to hard exercise every week is still best, any amount you do protects your health. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Work in your yard or garden
- Use the stairs instead of the elevator
- Park further away from your destination and walk
- Do some gentle stretches or lift weights while you watch TV
- Take short walks after dinner
- Try a dance or yoga class
- Wear a pedometer to track your steps