Right before sitting down to write this, I went on a quick jaunt outside my office. I popped in my headphones, had a staring contest with a bee, and thought about what I needed to accomplish for the rest of the day. When I got back, I knew exactly what projects to focus on (this article being one of them!).
It’s no secret—taking walking breaks is good for your mind. It can help you concentrate, increase your creativity, and boost your mood. But, did you know that even short little walks like this can be really good for your physical health, too?
It’s true. In a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers found that “those who moved more, especially if they [accumulated] an hour of physical activity over the course of the day, cut their mortality risk in half,” explains Gretchen Reynolds, author of The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer.
And how they racked up those minutes—whether a few 20-minute walks or several five-minute ones—didn’t matter.
“[Subjects] gained the same benefit if they walked sporadically in short but repeated spurts, as long as they moved often,” says Reynolds.
This is good news. If you find it hard to set aside one 60-minute chunk of time, that doesn’t mean you can’t reap any of the benefits from regular physical activity. You just have to take more small breaks throughout the day. That seems a little more manageable, right? It’s also good because sitting for prolonged periods of time just really isn’t good for you.
So, go on. Get moving. Choose the stairs instead of the elevator (unless you risk getting locked in the stairwell). Surfing the internet because you’re bored? Go outside and walk instead for five minutes. Have a few minutes between your back-to-back meetings? Take a trip around the block or walk back and forth to the kitchen. And, hey, if you’re really feeling ambitious, make one of your meetings a walking one.
Again, it doesn’t matter how you fit this activity in. It just matters that you do.