For weight loss, every extra minute of physical activity can help

Good news for people who dislike exercise: Even very brief periods of intense physical activity can help with weight loss, Medical Xpress reported.

In a study in the American Journal of Health Promotion, researchers collected data from 2,202 women and 2,309 men participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) between 2003 to 2006. During that time, study participants wore accelerometers for seven day periods in order to track their physical activity.

Researchers studied the amount of exercise people were doing based on the intensity and duration of each session. Participants were either categorized as exercising in high intensity bouts for greater or less than 10 minutes, or low-intensity bouts lasting greater or less than 10 minutes, according to Medical Xpress.

Among the women studied, every minute spent engaging in high-intensity, short bouts of exercise was linked to a .07 decrease in body mass index (BMI) – and results were similar for men.

"What we learned is that for preventing weight gain, the intensity of the activity matters more than duration," Jessie X. Fan, professor of family and consumer studies at the University of Utah, told Medical XPress. "This new understanding is important because fewer than 5 percent of American adults today achieve the recommended level of physical activity in a week according to the current physical activity guidelines. Knowing that even short bouts of 'brisk' activity can add up to a positive effect is an encouraging message for promoting better health."

Additionally, each minute of high intensity exercise was associated with a 5 percent decreased chance for obesity in women and a 2 percent decreased chance for obesity in men.

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