No time to exercise? That’s one common reason people don’t regularly work out. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests fitting in 150 minutes of moderate activity each week for getting or staying in shape. That breaks down to a half an hour each day, 5 days a week, time many of us don’t have. (Be sure to check with your healthcare team before beginning or modifying an exercise routine.)
However, if you spread that time out into three 10-minute chunks during the day, that goal may feel more manageable. What’s more, separating your exercise time may offer more benefits than working out continuously. Here’s why:
- You’ll sit less. You might have heard that sitting for long stretches of time may have hazardous health effects. By exercising a few times throughout the day, you can break up some of those sitting sessions, potentially improving your health by getting out of your chair.
- You may better manage your blood sugar levels. People with diabetes may know that exercise can sometimes cause blood sugar levels to drop. Fitting in a 10-minute walk or other activity after a meal may help regulate a post-meal blood sugar spike. (Get more information on blood sugar levels and exercise, including a chart for tracking physical activity.)
- You can make it a habit. Once you get used to regularly getting up and moving throughout the day, you may find that you exercise more than you set out to. You may start to crave that change of routine, meaning you’ll spend more time on your feet and less time being inactive.
- You’ll have time do it. When it comes to exercise, even 10 minutes is better than none. If a meeting comes up or your childcare cancels, you may have to skip the cycling class you signed up for. It can be difficult to carve out a solid chunk of time for exercise. But by planning a few short sessions throughout the day, you may have a better chance of actually doing it.
What sort of activity counts? Moderate activity includes many everyday activities, such as brisk walking or mowing the lawn. Activities can be done over a long stretch of time, or a short one. Aim for around 10 minutes of continuous activity, but if you’re only able to fit in shorter bursts, keep track so they add up to around 30 minutes a day.
Looking for new ideas? Here are 7 ways to fit in these small bursts of activity all day long:
- Start each morning or end each night with 10 minutes of yoga or stretching
- Go on a walk after each meal
- Block out short chunks of time to deep clean your office, your home or your car
- Tend your plants, doing any watering or weeding you need
- Cook a meal, then hand-wash the dishes afterward
- Take your 4-legged friend on a walk
- Schedule a midday work break and use it to walk up the stairs of your office or around the block.
Jessica Cassity is a health reporter for SELF, Fitness and Shape magazines, and the author of Better Each Day: 365 Expert Tips for a Healthier, Happier You. She is a Portland-based Pilates and yoga teacher, and blogs at thehappyandhealthyblog.com. Cassity is a paid contributor for The DX. All opinions contained in this article reflect those of the contributor and interviewee, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies, or affiliates.
© 2015 The DX: The Diabetes Experience