Short bursts of physical activity is all you need for a longer life

For years, I’ve been warning you against excessive exercise. Instead, I’ve always recommended some sensible, light-to-moderate exercise a few times a week. And now, a new study — published in the Journal of the American Heart Association of all places — found that short bursts of physical activity significantly reduce your mortality risk.

Of course, the $80 billion fitness industry encourages you to work out more, so you’ll spend more. Costs can quickly add up for their recommended “fitness essentials”: a gym membership, fitness classes, specialized training equipment, high-tech step-counters, personal trainers and “coaches,” and all of that overpriced, sweat-wicking clothing. But what it really adds up to is a waste of not only your money, but the most precious commodity of all — your time.

But as this new study shows, we really don’t need to spend vast amounts of money or time to gain major health benefits…

Just a few minutes a day tacks on years to your life

Over the course of seven years, the new study followed 4,840 participants over the age of 40 who took part in the huge U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Study volunteers wore accelerometer devices around their waists to monitor their physical activity and exertion. (Accelerometers are electronic devices that track how fast you move. And these days, they’re conveniently built into most “smart” phones.)

Researchers found that the men and women who accumulated just 60 minutes of total activity during the course of the day cut their mortality risk by 57 percent. And those who accumulated 100 minutes of total activity per day cut their mortality risk by 76 percent.

And remember, the participants accumulated these minutes slowly, sensibly, and productively — essentially “automatically,” during the normal course of the day. They did so by walking, using the stairs, doing housework, gardening, swimming, or generally making themselves useful.

However you choose to break a sweat, all the minutes you spend moving can really add up throughout the day. All activity is good activity.

So when possible, opt for the most active option. All it takes are minor changes. For instance, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park your car farther away in parking lots. Stand more and sit less. And the more you can do outdoors, the better. (Being outdoors is not only great for your mental health, but will also provide your body with all-important vitamin D, especially at this time of year.)

So in the end, you don’t have to ruin your joints, strain your heart, jar your kidneys, or disrupt your digestive track by engaging in excessive exercise. Just go about your day and aim for small, short bursts of activity. It’s not only better for your wallet, but your health.


“Moderate-to-Vigorous Physical Activity and All-Cause Mortality: Do Bouts Matter?” Journal of the American Heart Association 2018; 7:e007678