Physical Activity: Every Step Counts

2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans

The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week. Since 1995, the theory was that either type of exercise must be performed in at least 10 minute bouts for maximum health benefits. However, there is limited research to support this theory. That is why scientists and governmental regulators conducted a new study, which was published this month in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

New Findings

For this study, the scientists chose data from about 4,840 men and women past the age of 40 who had worn activity trackers. Then they analyzed the data and categorized activity levels. If activity lasted for five minutes or more, it was considered to be a “bout” of exercise. Movement lasting less than five minutes was categorized as sporadic physical activity, such as walking down the hallway or up a brief flight of stairs. The scientists found that moving for at least 20 minutes a day was beneficial to overall health, and those that reached 60 minutes a day of activity cut their mortality rate in half. Most surprisingly, it didn’t matter how the minutes were accumulated.


“The message is that all physical activity counts,” says Dr. William Kraus, a professor at Duke University who conducted the study with researchers from the National Cancer Institute. Every step you take throughout the day adds up. Here are some tips to help you reach your movement goals everyday:

  1. Park further from the entrance of work, school, or shopping center.
  2. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  3. For every hour of sitting, get up and walk around for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Tidy up the house/office space everyday.
  5. Start taking evening walks.

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