Don’t feel like getting off the couch? Two new studies have demonstrated the great benefits of mild or short duration exercise on decreasing the risk of diabetes and dispatching abdominal fat.
It’s no great secret that many people in the United States don’t care to exercise: on average we only get half as much exercise as is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (which, by the way, is 150 minutes of moderate aerobic physical activity [such as brisk walking] per week plus twice weekly strength training sessions. Or another way to think about it is to aim for 10,000 steps every day. People lose about 300-400 calories for every 10,000 steps walked).
Although our rates of chronic disease would certainly be substantially reduced if we followed the guidelines to the letter, exercise is one of those activities where doing something, even if that something is not much, is better—often a lot better—than doing nothing at all.
Walking even fairly short distances can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, says a new study in Diabetes Care by Amanda Fretts, of the University of Washington in Seattle, published in June of this year. The study looked at people from Native American backgrounds in Arizona and the Dakotas. It compared the number of people who developed diabetes after five years with those who didn’t based on their walking levels. Neither of the groups was particularly active. Approximately one-half of the participants were walking less than 7,000 steps per day.
The encouraging news was that for those people who walked more than 3,500 steps, (a mere 1-2 miles a day) they reduced their risk by five percent. Overall, adjusting for age, smoking and other diabetes related risks, the people who walked the most were 29 percent less likely to go on to develop diabetes.
Here are few ways to increase your steps
- First get a pedometer and find out how many steps you usually take and set a goal to do a couple thousand more each week.
- Get off the bus or train a stop before your normal station and walk the rest of the way.
- Park in the farthest space from your destination in the parking lot
- Help Rover burn off that extra energy—a tired dog is a good dog
And to lose a bit of abdominal fat while you’re counting your steps, try some sprints on an exercise bike for only 20 minutes three times a week, says a study coming from the University of New South Walesin the July addition of the Journal of Obesity.
The trial looked at the effects of high intensity interval exercise in 46 overweight, sedentary men assigned either to the exercise group or a control (no exercise) group.
The exercise consisted of 20 minutes of 8 sprints and 12 recovery periods. The sprints pushed the participants to 80 to 90 percent of their maximum heart rate. After 12 weeks the participants had lost 2 kilos (4.4 pounds) of body fat and 17 percent of their visceral fat—visceral fat surrounds the internal organs in the abdominal cavity and is the most dangerous kind of fat to have.
Since short and sweet is often the kind of exercise preferred by those who don’t like a lot of physical activity in their lives, interval training may be the way to go.