Strenuous exercise isn't the only way to get in shape. It turns out that short walks and other everyday tasks can matter just as much.
When it comes to fitness, the little things do count.
A new study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise suggests that, contrary to what many people believe, mundane activities such as walking around the office and climbing stairs have a positive impact on health.
"It's been thought for quite some time that there's this minimum threshold you need to perform physical activities at before you can see any health benefits," says Ashlee McGuire, the study's lead author. "We saw that incidental physical activities are also associated with improved cardiorespiratory fitness."
McGuire and co-author Dr. Robert Ross—respectively, a grad student and a professor in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen's University—monitored the movements of 135 inactive, abdominally obese participants for seven days. They measured the respondents' intensity and duration of physical activity by the minute using accelerometers instead of a heart rate monitor, which may be misled by heart-rate changes due to stress or temperature change. They found that those who exerted enough energy by doing over 30 minutes of moderate physical activity may reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease by 15 percent.