If Every Little Bit Helps

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…then why don’t we act that way?

Just about everywhere you look in exercise research, the more frequently you get active, you find lowered risk of mortality from all-cause mortality. 

And yet, there are too many people who feel like whatever they are doing, it’s not ever enough and feel their physical activity efforts are lacking and beat themselves up over it.   

Most recently, we find that 3-4 bouts of vigorous physical activity each day (duration less than a minute) lowered all-cause mortality in people who had no formal exercise program.  This study came out earlier this month in Nature Medicine and it’s based on data from the UK’s Biobank (a biomedical database and research resource that contains detailed genetic and health information for over 500,000 people in the UK.)

The vigorous physical activities included anything that raised the heart rate for a minute or more (your heart rate will stay elevated a little bit after you stop an activity that gets it up), such as lifting heavy packages, vigorous sweeping of a sidewalk, climbing stairs, walking fast, mowing the lawn, playing high-energy games with kids, or running for a bus.

It’s time to be kinder to ourselves.

If you care about health and are making an effort to be and stay active, this is for you:

“Great job!”

You’re likely doing the best you can, often under less-than-ideal circumstances.

I know too many people who sigh and wistfully mention that they should exercise more.

Just do what you can and don’t give up.  Celebrate that you actually do what you can when that’s all you can do. 

This drop in all-cause mortality from little bursts of “life-based” physical activity isn’t going to create true fitness, but it clearly helps. 

Rather than feel like you are endlessly unable to measure up to some mostly arbitrary standard of “enough” physical activity, just commit to doing your best long term. 

A bad day is a bad day.  If you let it get you too down on yourself, then it’s a problem. 

Every little bit helps…so let’s start acting like it does. Let’s celebrate the times when we do what we can.

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