He says to think of these bite-sized workouts as exercise snacks. “Activities such as brisk walking, climbing stairs and carrying shopping bags provide excellent opportunities for movement snacks.” To focus on the health benefits of these workout nuggets, he said, keep the intensity relatively high so you feel somewhat winded.

Potentially, you can cram all your exercises into long Saturday and Sunday workouts. one in 2017 study by Dr. Stamatakis And cohorts, those who reported exercising almost exclusively on weekends were less likely to die prematurely than those who said they rarely exercised. But there are drawbacks to being a weekend warrior. “It’s certainly not ideal to spend the workweek completely sedentary and then try to compensate,” Dr. Stamatakis said. You lose many of the health benefits of regular exercise, such as better blood-sugar control and improved mood, on days you don’t work out, he said. You also increase your risk of exercise-related injuries.

The exercise recommendations remain the same if you measure your exercise in steps instead of minutes. For most people, “150 minutes of exercise a week will translate into about 7,000 to 8,000 steps a day,” Dr. Lee said. In a new large-scale study of the relationship between steps and longevity by Dr. Lee and Dr. Ekelund, Published in The Lancet in MarchThe optimal number of steps for people under 60 was about 8,000 to 10,000 a day, and for people 60 and older, it was about 6,000 to 8,000 a day.

Of course, these recommendations regarding steps and minutes focus on health and lifespan, not physical performance. “If you want to run a marathon or 10K race as fast as possible, you need more exercise,” Dr. Ekelund said.

Even the recommended 150 minutes a week may be too little to prevent weight gain with age. one in 2010 study of nearly 35,000 women It was pioneered by Dr. Lee that only people who walked or otherwise exercised for about an hour a day during middle age maintained their weight as they got older.

So, if you have the time and inclination, walk more than 30 minutes a day, Dr. Li and other scientists said. in general, according to his research And other studies show, the more active we are, for more than 30 minutes a day, the lower our risks of chronic diseases and the longer our lives may be.

but any activity is better than none, “Every minute counts,” Dr. Ekelund said. “Running up the stairs has health benefits, even if it’s only for a minute or two, if you repeat it regularly.”

Gretchen Reynolds will be taking time off from the PhysEd column to work on a book. In the meantime, follow him on Twitter (@gretchenreynold) or seek him out on running trails and bike paths.

audio produced by Kate Winslet,



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