Dear doctor: My kids say you shouldn’t admit it, but I hate playing sports.
Mileage once or twice a week is really the most I can do. Should I even worry?
Dear reader: In short, yes. While it would be great if you enjoyed exercising to do them more often, new intriguing research shows that when it comes to physical activity, every little thing helps.
In fact, a study conducted on mice at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas found that only one workout supports nerve cells in the brain that play a role in metabolism activated for up to two days. The conclusion of this study, published in December, is that these neurons respond to even small activity.
The study focused on two types of neurons that are part of the brain chain found in both humans and mice.
These two types of neurons, when activated, perform very different functions. One of them plays a role in lowering glucose levels, suppressing appetite and boosting metabolism. Another type of neuron does almost the opposite – it increases appetite and slows down metabolism.
The researchers found that one intense workout boosted the activity of the first type of neuron – one that reduces appetite, lowers glucose and causes increased energy production – for up to two days.
At the same time, it suppressed the effects of the second type of neuron – one that is associated with increased hunger and decreased metabolic rate – at the same time. While this is good news for people like you who prefer a more modest exercise schedule, the study also provided an incentive to be even more active: it turned out that these changes in nervous activity lasted even longer in people who exercised. sports more often.
Speaking of frequency, would you be willing to take only 10-15 minutes of exercise a day? Although exercise and gym classes are usually measured in hours, new research shows that short exercise sessions – while performed daily – can be rewarding. A study at the Pennington Center for Biomedical Research in Louisiana found that sedentary women who walked briskly for only 72 minutes a week – about 10 minutes each day – had the same improvements in heart rate and overall fitness as in groups. which walked almost twice as long. .
Another study found that while it included at least 60 seconds of high-intensity exercise, a 10-minute workout brought the same benefits as a 45-minute constant run. And for those with a long-term view, many studies link regular exercise with a lower risk of early death.
When it comes to your current activity level, are there any sports or games that you enjoyed in the past that you would consider again? It doesn’t have to be the same every day.
Even a 10-minute game with kids several times a week will get you moving.
Think creatively and we are sure you will find a solution. In the meantime, please keep working.
Eva Glaser, MD, MBA, is a therapist and associate professor of medicine at UCLA Health. Elizabeth Co., MD, is a therapist and associate professor of medicine at UCLA Health.