Every Minute Counts! Short Bursts of Physical Activity Reduces Mortality

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Pedro F. Saint-Maurice, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Fellow Metabolic Epidemiology Branch Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics National Cancer Institute, NIH, HHS Rockville, MD 20850

Dr. Saint-Maurice

Pedro F. Saint-Maurice, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow
Metabolic Epidemiology Branch
Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics
National Cancer Institute, NIH, HHS
Rockville, MD 20850

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

 Response: The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends adults do 150 minutes/week of moderate intensity physical activity (PA) in increments of at least 10 minutes at a time. However, there is limited epidemiologic evidence supporting the use of the 10-minute increment and whether shorter increments (for instance walking up the stairs) can also be beneficial for health in adults. We looked at accelerometer-measured physical activity in roughly 5,000 adults (40 and older) representative of the US population and followed them prospectively (over 7 years) to determine whether physical activity accumulated in 10-minute increments, but also accumulated in shorter bursts, were associated with lower risk of death (mortality data came from the National Death Index).

MedicalResearch.com:? What are the main findings?

Response: First, we found that adults who engaged in more physical activity were less likely to die over the study period. This has been extensively studied and our results are aligned with previous research. However, we also observed lower mortality for more active individuals irrespective of how they accumulated the activity: in 1-minute, 5 or 10-minute increments.

Our results suggest that how physical activity is accumulated (in short or long increments) is less important than accumulating minutes of moderate-vigorous intensity physical activity throughout the day/week.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The current 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults accumulate 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity physical activity, accumulated in increments of at least 10 minutes. Our results support the target of 150 minutes per week and suggest that shorter increments are also beneficial. Simply put, every minute counts!

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Future research should examine if the benefits of accumulating physical activity in short or longer increments apply to other health outcomes, such as cancer incidence or cancer mortality. This examination might be particularly valuable considering that cancer is the second leading cause of death among adults in developed countries.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add? 

Response: These findings have important implications for professionals promoting physical activity. For example, based on our results, clinicians may promote either long, single or multiple, shorter bouts of activity when advising adults how to progress toward 150 minutes/week of PA. This flexibility may be particularly valuable for adults who are less active and more likely to develop chronic conditions.


Moderate‐to‐Vigorous Physical Activity and All‐Cause Mortality: Do Bouts Matter?
Pedro F. Saint‐Maurice, Richard P. Troiano, Charles E. Matthews, William E. Kraus
Journal of the American Heart Association. 2018;7:e007678
Originally published March 22, 2018

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Last Updated on March 24, 2018 by Marie Benz MD FAAD