Short bursts of activity add up for overall fitness & health, Duke University says

DURHAM, N.C. - We have good news and we have bad news if you want to stay healthy. The bad: You need at least 20 minutes of activity a day. The good news: You don't need to get it all at once.

Duke University researchers found that as long as you get 20 minutes of activity in short bursts, it actually adds up throughout the day, giving similar positive effects to your heart health and overall fitness the same way a regular 20-minute workout would.

In fact, these short bursts may cut the risk of dying prematurely by half. So, how do you do this?

Get creative. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park far away in the parking lot, and make several trips back to your car for groceries, instead of lugging them all at once. You've heard these before, but they work!

"Usually, moms or dads have kids, and kids may have a football practice or whatever that may be. I usually encourage parents, instead of just sitting on the bleachers and shouting, why don't you actually walk around the entire field or court? You can still see the same, but keep walking, keep active," Dr. Shahan Chowdhury says.

While these short burst of exercise throughout the day can help heart health, that doesn't replace going to the gym if you want to get in amazing shape.
But, if you do hit the gym, the doctor also says, you still need to make sure your day features more activity than just that one concentrated workout.

"I`ve been guilty of this myself, where I may have done an exercise class or something in the morning, then I go to work, and I sit in the office at a desk all day, and I`ve moved 1,000 steps. I don't think that's very healthy, either, because you want to keep the blood flowing. You want to keep the circulation going," she says.

Dr. Chowdhury also warns that we're living in a drive-thru and delivery culture so, instead of sitting at home and ordering things online that are also available down the street, simply go out and get them yourself.

It's better in the long run.