The Fitness Doctor: Can You Find Five Minutes Per Day This Year?

Given that over 80% of the U.S. workforce is exposed to long periods of sitting, you might wonder how that lack of movement could affect your health in the long run. An extensive amount of research has explored the downsides of prolonged sitting.

Some of these concerns include increased risk of sciatica, kyphosis, and even increased potential for mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Regardless, new studies continue to suggest that extra movement throughout the day can help you live a longer, happier and healthier life.

A new study was published in the European Heart Journal by researchers from University College London (UCL) to see just how that increased movement may specifically have benefits for overall health and healthy weight management.

The researchers at UCL collected information on over 15,000 people from six different international studies. For each set of data, participants wore heart-monitoring devices to measure their 24-hour daily activity. These activities included sedentary behavior such as sitting, or lying down outside of the sleep schedule, as well as sleep time itself and movement like standing, walking and exercise.

Using this data on daily activity, researchers found that as little as five minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity per day, may have a positive effect on health in the long term. For example, they predicted that the average 54-year-old participant with a BMI of 26.5 could achieve a 2.4-centimeter decrease in waist size and 3.6% decrease in A1c levels by replacing 30 minutes of daily sitting with moderate-to-vigorous exercise.

What Constitutes Moderate and Vigorous Exercise? Basically, any activity that raises your heart rate and makes you breathe faster, even for a minute or two. Here are some helpful tips on how you can incorporate this into your daily life right now:

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Rather than looking for the closest parking spot, look for the farthest one.
  • Spend a lot of time on the phone? Walk and talk!
  • Working from home? Place your laptop on the treadmill and walk very slowly.

The results of this study also suggested that small increases in movement may have significant, positive impacts on heart health and cardiovascular biomarkers. Though more research is needed, the link between cardiovascular health and increases in activity level is uncontested. This data adds to growing evidence that any movement (even standing at your work desk) is better than sitting, when feasible.

Given this evidence, and the easy methods I have suggested, can you afford to not spare five minutes per day this year to live a longer, healthier life?

Dr. Frederick Peters.

Dr. Frederick Peters.

*Dr. Peters is the founder of “The Fitness Doctor” ( He has a Ph.D. in Physiology from Kent State University and is a certified member of the American College of Sports Medicine. Dr. Peters was born and raised in the Cleveland area and is a graduate of St. Ignatius High School and John Carroll University. He can be reached at [email protected]

See all of Dr. Peter’s and other Columns HERE


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