walking breaks

Study: Walking Breaks Add Up

Got a Minute? Actually, Two. Because if you can spare two minutes, you may want to use them on walking breaks. They add up.

The Journal of the American Heart Association recently ran a study titled “Moderate‐to‐Vigorous Physical Activity and All‐Cause Mortality: Do Bouts Matter?” It’s findings are useful for well-run workplace wellness programs that seek new ways to encourage movement — and anyone who feels stuck at a desk with no opportunity for exercise.

The authors note: “The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults accumulate at least 150 min/wk of moderate or 75 min/wk of vigorous‐intensity physical activity for substantial health benefits. The guidelines also direct that activity be performed in bouts of at least 10 minutes. The 10‐minute bout criterion originated in 1995 and was intended to provide flexibility in achieving the recommended dose.”

Could less time — with frequency — also provide benefits? Details:

  • “This study examines whether moderate‐to‐vigorous physical activity needs to be accumulated in bouts to provide mortality benefits.”

  • “Accelerometer‐measured physical activity data collected in 2003–2006 from a representative sample of US adults (n=4840) were classified as being accumulated sporadically or in bouts and linked to mortality records available through 2011.”

  • “Sporadic and bouted moderate‐to‐vigorous physical activity was similarly and strongly associated with mortality risk.”

  • “Mortality risk reductions associated with moderate‐to‐vigorous physical activity are independent of how activity is accumulated.”

And the study notes the clinical implications:

  • “This finding can inform future physical activity guidelines and guide clinical practice when advising individuals about the benefits of physical activity.”

  • “The key message based on the results presented is that total physical activity (ie, of any bout duration) provides important health benefits.”

  • “Practitioners can promote either long single or multiple shorter bouts of activity in advising adults how to progress toward 150 min/wk of moderate‐to‐vigorous physical activity.”

  • “This flexibility may be particularly valuable for individuals who are among the least active and likely at greater risk for developing chronic conditions.”