It’s how often you do it, not how much

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Experts say small amounts of exercise each day can provide long-term benefits. BULL STUDIO/Stocksy
  • Researchers report that small daily activities are better for muscle strength than less frequent, more intense workouts.
  • Experts add that exercising every day is also better for overall health and can reduce the risk of injury.
  • They recommend that people who are not currently exercising start slowly with less strenuous activity for short periods.

The Turtle was probably on to something when he said stability trumped the more explosive but inconsistent Hare.

New to research from Edith Cowan University (ECU) in Australia indicates that a small amount of daily activity is more beneficial than less frequent and more intense workouts when it comes to muscle strength.

ECU collaborated with Niigata University and Nishi Kyushu University in Japan on a four-week training study featuring three groups of people doing arm resistance exercise with researchers measuring changes in muscle strength and muscle strength. muscle thickness.

The exercise consisted of “maximum voluntary eccentric biceps contractions” performed on a machine that measured muscle strength in each muscle contraction that one would do in the gym.

Two groups did 30 contractions per week. One group performed six contractions a day for five days a week while the other locked in all 30 in a single day, once a week. Another group performed only six contractions one day a week.

After four weeks, the group performing 30 contractions in a single day showed no increase in muscle strength, although muscle thickness increased by almost 6%.

The group doing six contractions once a week showed no change in strength or size.

However, the 6×5 group showed significant increases in strength – over 10% – with a similar increase in muscle thickness as the 30×1 group.

The results were similar to those of people in a previous study perform a single maximum eccentric contraction of 3 seconds per day for five days a week for four weeks.

“People think they have to do a long resistance training session in the gym, but that’s not the case,” said Ken Nosaka, a professor of exercise and sports science at ECU, in a statement. “Just slowly lower a heavy dumbbell once or six times a day.”

Although the researchers only looked at bicep curls in the study, “we think this would be the case for other muscles as well, at least to some degree,” Nosaka said.

Dr. Katie Hillthe chief medical officer at healthcare provider Nudj Health, told Healthline it’s “much better” to do moderate exercise as many days a week as possible rather than one or two mega-sessions a week .

“There is growing evidence that moving regularly throughout the day must be combined with approximately 150 minutes (per week) of moderate-intensity exercise to best reduce the risk of death, heart disease , obesity and other chronic diseases,” Hill said. said. “In fact, people who regularly live to be over 100, like those in Loma Linda, California, Sardinia, Italy, and Okinawa, Japan, have lives that naturally require movement every about 20 minutes.”

Hill added that regular movement is the best way to stay fit at any age.

“No one is too old to benefit from moving more,” she said. “Every exercise program should include a mix of strength training, balance training and aerobic activities. Strength and balance training maintains bone health, reduces the risk of falls over time and is linked to improved insulin sensitivity and other metabolic lab values, among other benefits Aerobic activity improves cardiovascular fitness and contributes directly to telomere elongation, which is closely linked to longevity.

Dr. Rafael S. Garcia-Cortescardiologist and heart failure and transplant specialist with Ascension Medical Group at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Indianapolis, told Healthline that people should remember that “everything you do is better than nothing.” “.

“Walking a mile at low speed is better than sitting at home,” Garci-Cortes said. “In fact, the (Physical Activities Guidelines for Americans) focus on that moving more and sitting less will benefit almost everyone. Therefore, you should try to always achieve at least 10 minutes per session and keep progressing. In the beginning, it’s okay to be humble and keep working to improve rather than risk injury.

“That said, you should at least try to keep up with 3-5 days of physical activity and if you can keep improving you will definitely meet the physical activity goals, you will see all the benefits in the long run. on your overall health,” he added.

The type of activity can vary, but what’s important is that it’s regular, says Dr. Nick WestCardiologist and Chief Vascular Physician at Abbott.

“Recent evidence from a variety of sources suggests that relatively short but steady bursts of strength training, even at low intensity, can not only provide the same muscle/muscle building effects as infrequent, more intense workouts, but also short bursts of strength training. walks, especially after meals, can reduce blood sugar spikes and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes,” West told Healthline.

“These data clearly underscore that frequent but light exercise can provide important health benefits,” he added.

Regular, less intense workouts also minimize the risk of injury, said Dr Rene Armentabariatric and general surgeon for Renew Bariatrics.

“When you train intensely, you put a lot of stress on your body, which can lead to injury if you’re not careful or aren’t used to that level of intensity,” Armenta told Healthline. “By spreading out your exercise routine, you give your body time to recover between sessions and reduce your overall risk of injury.

“It’s convenient for those who can’t commit to mega-sessions per week but can reasonably commit to moderate exercise most days,” he added. “A little exercise is still an exercise and will always be better than no exercise at all. Even five minutes of activity can already make a big difference. Even if they are small and short, they can still have a big impact on your overall health and well-being, especially when all your efforts are combined.

“Moderate daily exercise may also benefit those in a love-hate relationship with exercise,” Armenta noted. “If you often find yourself skipping workouts because you dread them, then moderate exercise might be a better fit for you. That way you won’t have to force yourself to train as much and you’ll less likely to burn out and give up on your fitness goals altogether.

Hill said people who aren’t yet exercising should just start in a way that fits into existing routines.

“Pick one or two exercise moves and pick a small minimum goal, a goal so easy it’s hard not to pull it off even on a bad day,” Hill said. “Pick an activity during your day that you already do automatically and commit to doing that minimum exercise right after that activity.”

“Write the goal somewhere visible. For example, “Every time I use the toilet today, I will do at least two squats.” Evidence suggests that most people will naturally do a little more than their minimum one time they get moving, so a typical person might actually perform 3-5 squats three or four times a day,” she explained.

“After reaching the minimum goal, celebrate in a simple way, such as a fist pump combined with a ‘YESSSS!’ Research suggests that people who are most successful at maintaining an exercise habit over time are those who get immediate benefit from it rather than those who only focus on a long-term goal like weight loss. Celebrating at the end of physical activity is an important way to get that immediate reinforcement,” noted Hill.

“Over time, increase your reps, add weight, or add another exercise. Eventually, set aside time in your schedule for your new habit of physical activity and it will become an essential part of your self-care routine” , she said.

About Shirley A. Tamayo

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