How often do you get on your feet daily and spend a few minutes working out vigorously to elevate your heart rate or lift challenging weights to build your strength? If you answered “two minutes,” you’re both in good company and on the way to making yourself healthier than individuals who smoke regularly or have diabetes. New healthy workout guidelines released in November reassure people who have only limited time available to exercise that just two minutes of activity can build up to provide life-sustaining health advantages.
At the annual meeting of the American Heart Association, hosted in 2018 in the city of Chicago, the latest edition of the U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans was unveiled. Americans might remember that prior guidelines from this leading health organization held that physical activity didn’t count toward overall health unless it exceeded 10 minutes in length. In this update, two is the new ten.
That’s because reliable research now shows that even two minutes of activity that lifts your heart rate can be extremely beneficial. Adults should find activities throughout the day that can create those momentary elevations in heart rate, before they return to their other tasks at hand. The American Heart Association recognizes that two minutes may be the extent of availability some Americans have in days that are overly packed with work priorities and outside commitments.
Regular weekly guidelines haven’t changed as a part of this transition in what does and does not count as useful disease-beating activities. The AHA continues to encourage adults to achieve at least 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise. Young children should have 3 hours of activity per day while older children need just one hour per day. And older adults should focus not just on aerobic and strength exercises but also on those activities that enhance their ability to balance.
For busy individuals, attaining 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week, on top of time spent enhancing strength, may seem difficult. But split into two minutes at a time, adults can achieve this goal nearly effortlessly. Six brisk walks between meetings per day takes care of the first 60 minutes of the weekly goal. Walks to and from vehicles or public transportation, pushing carts through the grocery store, walking dogs or children around the bock, or working strenuously in a garden can easily add up to the remaining time. Sports nutrition supplements can enhance workout results while everyday activities, done with just slightly more intensity, can result in far better health outcomes.