(Truth Theory) After hitting your alarm clock’s “snooze” button five times then rolling out of bed, the last thing you might feel inspired to do is go on a run. However, new research suggests there are important health benefits to putting on one’s joggers — and they can be experienced in as little as one minute.
According to the study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, a single minute of exercise each day is linked with a reduced risk for osteoporosis and bone fractures in women as they age. Indeed, “brief bursts” of high-intensity, weight-bearing activity were shown to benefit bone health. Exercises that match this requirement include HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and slow jogging for post-menopausal women or medium-paced running for premenopausal women. Good bone health is critical as one ages, as it reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis or fracturing bones later in life.
The findings were determined by using the national and international health resource UK Biobank. Researchers with the University of Exeter and University of Leicester reviewed data on more than 2,500 women. Scientists kept track of the women’s’ movement through a wrist monitor which they wore for one week. It was concluded that women who did 60 to 120 seconds of high-intensity, weight-bearing activity had a 4 percent better bone health than women who didn’t.
The researchers also learned that women who partake in high-intensity, weight-bearing exercise for more than two minutes a day showed 6 percent better bone health. A four-to-six percent increase in bone health may not seem like much, but it’s an important discovery, one that affirms the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
Said lead author Dr. Victoria Stiles of the University of Exeter, “We don’t yet know whether it’s better to accumulate this small amount of exercise in bits throughout each day or all at once, and also whether a slightly longer bout of exercise on one or two days per week is just as good as 1-2 minutes a day. But there’s a clear link between this kind of high-intensity, weight-bearing exercise and better bone health in women.”
“We wanted to make every second count in our analysis, because short snippets of high-intensity activity are more beneficial to bone health than longer, continuous periods,” Stiles added. “We were careful not to ignore short bursts of activity throughout the day.”
The UK’s National Osteoporosis Society recommends first-time runners ease into the practice by increasing their walking. Said Styles, “We would suggest adding a few running steps to the walk, a bit like you might if you were running to catch a bus.”