Over all, the results “are really encouraging,” he says. “For people who think that 30 minutes of exercise is too hard or takes up too much time, we can say, just do 10 minutes” three times during the day. And, conversely, if someone is tempted to dismiss a mere 10 minutes of walking as too meager to be meaningful, “it seems clear that, at least for blood pressure control, fractionized exercise is actually more effective” than a single 30-minute bout.
His work joins a small but compelling body of science suggesting that, for many purposes, short, cumulative exercise sessions are remarkably beneficial. A study published last year in PLoS One, for instance, found that in children and teenagers, repeated bouts of running or other physical activity lasting as little as five minutes at a time reduced the youngsters’ risks of poor cholesterol profiles, wide waistlines and above-average blood pressure readings as much as longer exercise sessions did.
Other studies have found that exercising sporadically throughout the day aids in weight control, particularly for older women. It also, in a few small studies, improved aerobic fitness among previously sedentary people as much as a single, longer workout did and, as a regimen, was more likely to be maintained over the long term.