Healthbeat Report: Exercise Snacking

October 25, 2012 (CHICAGO)

Laundry mostly folded. Check. Baby napping. Check. Three and a 1/2 year old busy being a princess. Check. Ten minutes for busy mom to squeeze in some exercise. Check.

"I just thought, what's 10 minutes, you know, why even bother," said Amanda Dudley.

But Dudley did bother, and she's amazed her exercise snacking at home is paying off. And a compelling body of evidence agrees. Short bouts of exercise can make a difference.

Experts are learning that short, intense bursts of activity at the desk or around the office can improve your mood, productivity and waistline.

"Ten minutes is not that long. You can find 10 minutes," said Lisa Payne, personal trainer & fitness instructor.

Payne teaches clients how to do it all with a small amount of time and space.

There are many versions of these mini workouts. Payne is just one trainer who's posted a 10 minute total body work out on YouTube. It includes seven different exercises such as squats, side crunches, curtsy lunges and planks -- 16 repetitions each for two rounds.

Fitness experts recommend a mix of cardio and strength exercises -- moves that are good for your heart and good for your muscles.

"The more you mix it up, the more it's challenged. If you can pick 10 to 20 exercises and do it in 10 minutes, you'll sneeze and those 10 minutes will be over," said Payne.

The typical recommendation is at least 30 minutes of daily exercise . But breaking that 1/2 hour up into 10 minute intervals may bring even better results. Just how intense they need to be is debatable.

"The idea is that just a small amount compounded over a period of time can have a huge impact on energy," said Craig Horswill, PhD, exercise physiologist, UIC Kinesilogy & Nutrition.

One study shows shorter sessions are more effective at controlling blood pressure than the single half hour with generally healthy people. Other studies find exercising sporadically throughout the day can help older women better manage their weight.

And even if 10 minutes once a day is all you can manage...

"The mental part of this, gee, I accomplished that, I can do that, it didn't hurt that much, you get use to that and then you can take the next step," said Dr. Horswill.

Michele Kerulis, Michele Kerulis, Ed.D., a health and sports counselor of Adler School Prof. Psychology, a health and sports counselor still does traditional workouts .. But she also takes her exercise snacking seriously.

"I think if I can get that 10 minutes it's much better than not exercising at all," said Dr. Kerulis.

Exercise snacking will not create elite athletes. But studies are showing it can help make you healthier.

If you are older or have medical issues consult a doctor for the best plan. And one key is to not increase your food intake along with your mini workouts.

American College of Sports Medicine

Healthy Lifestyle Research Center at Arizona State University

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