Even a Little Bit of Exercise Goes a Long Way

We all know that we’d be healthier, happier and sharper if we exercised regularly. But despite our best intentions, it rarely happens.

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The government recommends getting at least two-and-a-half hours of exercise a week. To the average couch potato, though, that sounds like a Herculean task.

Now for the good news: a new study suggests that you don’t have to work out that much to gain health benefits. Even small amounts of physical activity — say, half the government’s recommendation — are enough to improve heart health.

The researchers found that even little bits of activity — just 75 minutes a week, which amounts to an easy 15-minute walk each weekday — offered significant benefit. People who eked out that much exercise still enjoyed a 14% lower heart risk than those who didn’t work out at all.

While researchers have long known that physical activity has major benefits for heart health, until now, no studies had quantified exactly how much exercise was necessary.

The results should help motivate even the busiest of us to squeeze in at least a little bit more physical activity a day. And they could help encourage the sedentary to get started. “If you are doing nothing, do something,” Barry Franklin, a spokesman for the American Heart Association, told HealthDay. “And if you are doing something, say, walking 10 or 15 minutes, two to three times a week, do more.”