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I've read you can get the same health benefits from three 10-minute sessions of physical activity as you can from one 30-minute session. Is this true?

Woman WalkingA: Yes, this is absolutely true. Several studies suggest that you can reap the same substantial health benefits from physical activity whether it is performed all at once or broken up into several 10-minute sessions.

For example, one well-controlled trial published in 1998 compared the effects of short and long sessions of brisk walking in sedentary women. The women were split into three groups: the first group completed one 30-minute brisk walk 5 days per week, the second group completed three 10-minute brisk walks 5 days per week, and the third group did not do any activity – they acted as a control group. At the end of the 10-week study period, both walking groups showed an increased level of fitness and a decreased amount of body fat compared to the control group. The improvements were similar for both walking groups.

If you’re pressed for time, split your physical activity into several 10-minute sessions throughout the day. Be creative – get off the train or bus one stop early or do a lap around the mall before you start shopping. You will experience the same health benefits without the stress of needing to set aside one large block of time in your busy schedule for physical activity.

Mary Kennedy, MS, is a Health Fitness Specialist certified by the American College of Sports Medicine. 


AICR recommends that you accumulate at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity throughout the day for lower cancer risk. On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 = very easy, 10 = very hard), a moderate-paced activity should feel like a 5 or 6. It is best to ease into moderate activity – start off at about 50 percent of your intended intensity level and work up to your goal pace.


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