07/19/2024

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Can just three minutes of exercise have a real impact on overall health and fitness? It may sound like a quick fitness gimmick, but a recent study published in the American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism suggests that exercising the body for three minutes twice an hour may be beneficial to health.

The small but compelling study involved 16 middle-aged men and women living in Stockholm with typical desk jobs and a history of obesity. (Their sedentary lifestyles and metabolic status put them at risk for diabetes.)

For a week, study participants wore monitors to provide scientists with baseline numbers. Then, half downloaded a smartphone app that instructed them to move for three minutes every 30 minutes. For three weeks, that half of the subjects stepped in place, squatted, and performed other simple exercises (which did not distract their colleagues). The control group was not required to exercise every 30 minutes.

Ultimately, the data showed that interrupting prolonged sitting and moving for about three minutes every two hours reduced the effects of prolonged sitting and improved glycemic control compared to baseline levels. After three weeks of frequent activity breaks, participants showed lower fasting blood glucose levels and lower glycemic variability.

However, the researchers concluded that at least three minutes should be considered – and if you can exercise more (for example, every two hours in addition to a more formal daily workout), so much the better.

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