We have been told for decades by health professionals and exercise physiologists that, for exercise to be effective, we need to be active for a minimum of 30 minutes on most days of the week. The experts even say that for weight loss and fitness, this needs to be increase to 45 minutes to an hour each session. New research has busted this belief and the advantages of micro exercise are hard to refute.
The main research was conducted at Canada’s Queens University and has shown the effectiveness and usefulness of smaller busts of exercise for weight loss and general fitness. Small amounts of physical activity throughout the day are now believed to count towards increasing fitness and losing weight. The benefits particularly apply to those who have a sedentary lifestyle or job.
What is micro exercise?
Micro exercise is described as any physical activity or workout that takes less than 10 minutes, typically between 4 and 10 minutes. Included in the description of what constitutes a micro workout are household chores, walking, stair climbing and many of the traditional exercises such as squats, push-ups, stretches, lunges and hand weights.
This new fitness concept is actually a version of the popular interval training, which has been shown to increase fitness, fat burning and muscle strength more than same-paced exercise. The science behind the effectiveness of interval training is the fact that muscle continues to burn calories, by way of body fat, long after the exercise has stopped. By exercising at different intensities, this effect is multiplied.
Micro exercises are designed to be fitted into your normal daily activities. Taking the stairs two at a time; putting clothes into the washing machine by doing squats instead of bending over; walking fast or jogging for 3 minutes then returning to normal pace for 1 minute; doing step-ups on the bottom step for 2 minutes and then walking up the rest are all activities that qualify as micro exercises.
Top 4 Advantages of Micro Exercise
- It is a simple way for inactive people to ease into exercise. For those who have never exercised before, the thought of sweating it out in a gym can be quite daunting, especially if they are overweight. Micro exercises, done throughout the day, are a good start to an exercise program. People get the feel-good benefits of exercise and this encourages them to increase the amount of exercise they do and make other healthy lifestyle changes.
- It doesn’t need a large chunk of time to be taken out of a busy day. Because micro exercise is only short bursts of activity, it can be fitted in as part of the day. It is easy to find a couple of minutes to do 20 squats, 3 minutes of stretching or take a brisk walk, a few times a day. In fact, research has shown that taking small breaks from your work, especially if physical movement is involved, actually makes you more productive when you get back to the job and helps to reduce stress.
- It is a gentle start to weight loss for people who have been inactive. Exercise is an accepted part of losing weight but it is this component of weight loss programs that many people get stuck on. Micro exercise is a great way for obese people to start moving more, without the trauma of full-on workouts. Gradually, as they increase their fitness and start to lose weight, their activity levels can increase, working on this solid base of micro exercises.
- It is great way to get back in shape after illness or injury. Micro exercise, done several times a day, is an easy way for people to get back their full strength and fitness. Micro exercises can be non-weight bearing and low impact, which helps get the muscles and joints moving again without risk of injury.
Micro exercise may not be the total answer for fitness and weight loss but it is certainly offering options to those who are time-poor or just getting started in exercise and working out.