But it’s getting even better: according to a December 2022 study by the University of Sydneythe researchers found that only three to four one minute daily bursts of intense activity can improve overall health and reduce the risk of premature death by up to 40% (and up to 49% when we look at deaths from cardiovascular disease specifically).
Sounds too good to be true, right? We spoke with two health experts to find out how beneficial short bursts of activity can be.
How short bursts of activity improve your heart health
Notice how out of breath you can feel after walking up and down the stairs to swap a load of laundry or accepting that Grubhub delivery you’ve been looking forward to? While this may seem rather inconsequential compared to a dedicated 30-60 minute workout, a board-certified family nurse practitioner Kris AdairMSN, RN, FNP-BC, who has a background in cardiology and is the founder of Adair Family Clinic and MedSpasays that weaving regular bursts of thrilling moments into your daily routine, even through daily chores, will improve your overall health.
“Short bursts of activity are very helpful for your heart health because they increase circulation and oxygenation to the whole body in a way similar to revving an engine,” she explains. “This sudden surge delivers nutrients and oxygen to areas of the body that may not be receiving them effectively, removing toxins, debris and stagnant blood that can slow bodily function or even contribute to dysfunction in those areas. , restoring them to normal and reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke or cancer.
Michael Gavalas, MD, a cardiologist at Stony Brook Heart Instituteadds that in addition to significantly reducing the risk of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease and cancer, these bursts of activity improve cardiorespiratory fitness, which can be observed quite quickly after implementing this method.
“Physical activity helps improve cardiorespiratory fitness, and higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness are associated with lower rates of all-cause mortality,” he explains. “Repeated short bursts of vigorous physical activity can lead to improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness in just a few weeks.”
How long does a burst of activity need to last to be beneficial?
As mentioned in the study, bursts of activity lasting one to two minutes are enough to improve your heart health and overall well-being. But don’t just quit after a series of rigorous activities. According to the study, you need to perform these bursts at least three to four times a day to see results. And you’ll want to make sure each burst is vigorous enough to really get your heart pumping.
The best activities to improve heart health
Think about the times in your daily life when you notice that you are short of breath. Maybe it’s when you’re chasing your dog or toddler around the house, or maybe when you’re running to get your train on your daily commute. As long as the activity gets your heart pumping, it’s a good choice. “Essentially any sort of unstructured activity that increases cardiovascular circulation and that you find enjoyable can be done as a short duration activity,” Adair confirms.
If you work from home and don’t get out of breath very often, a Apple Watch Series 8 ($399+) can help. The smartwatch will send hourly reminders to stand. When this happens, instead of walking for a minute to score another stance point, consider jogging up stairs or doing a set of burpees. Just be sure to do it for at least one to two minutes to adequately improve your cardio fitness as recommended by the study.
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