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The Two-Minute Workout

Two Minutes of Light-Intensity Activity May Offset Effects of Sitting

Whether you’re at your desk, on your lunch break, home on the couch, or relaxing on the porch, chances are you’re sitting while reading this. It’s no secret that sedentary time is harmful to health, yet most adults spend about nine to eleven hours per day sitting down. In a modern society of desk jobs, commutes and a technology-filled home, sedentary time can be tough to get away from. Luckily, a 2015 study out of the University of Utah suggests just two minutes per hour may be all you need to keep your health in check.

Over 3,600 participants of NHANES, a national survey on health, were asked to wear a device that measured duration and intensity of physical activity. Nearly three years later, researchers followed up on participants’ health. Not surprisingly, longer sedentary time was linked with an 18% increase in risk of death. However, exchanging just two minutes of sedentary time per hour for light-intensity activity like walking was associated with a 33% lower risk of dying. Swapping two minutes of sitting for a walk is not difficult, and could also result in burning an additional 200-1,000 calories per week, which equates to a loss of up to 15 pounds per year.

These results are promising, but don’t rule out more vigorous exercise from your day. Activities like running, swimming and cycling have been linked to reduced risk of heart failure, improved memory, and lower mental stress. Aim to fit in at least 30 minutes of more intense exercise—like kickboxing or spinning—at least five days per week, while also reducing time spent sitting. When you’re at your desk or relaxing at home, take two minutes per hour to do something physical. Take a brisk walk around the office or climb a flight of stairs—anything that gets you up and lightly moving. There’s no excuse to avoid two minutes!

BONUS: Take the stairs instead of the elevators—a Swiss study found employees who banished the elevator at work for three months saw a nearly 9% increase in aerobic capacity, which translates into a 15% drop in the chances of premature death.

Published July 1, 2015

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