by Healthy Starts Made Simple

You hit the snooze button one too many times this morning, got handed a new project at 4:45 p.m. or used up your lunch break buying a gift for a friend. No matter the reason, many people have a hard time finding a solid 30-minute window to exercise.

That’s the number of minutes experts recommend we get our hearts pumping each day in order to maintain our overall health. [1]

Here’s the good news: It turns out that quick, 10-minute workouts sprinkled throughout your day may be even more beneficial for your heart health than one half-hour sweat fest.

In studying the health effects of shorter workout sessions, researchers from Arizona State University assigned one group three 10-minute walks a day and another group a single 30-minute walk. They found that doing multiple mini-sessions is a smarter strategy for blood pressure control: The 10-minute-at-a-time exercisers not only reduced their systolic blood pressure (that’s the top number) during the day and evening (similar to the 30-minute group) but also continued to benefit from a lower BP the following day. [1]

Why do these shorter strolls yield a longer-lasting benefit? Walking — even for a short period — lowers blood pressure after each bout, so you wind up with a more pronounced reduction by walking three times each day compared with just one. To reap the greatest decrease, walk at a quick pace. That means you should be able to keep up one end of a conversation with some moderate huffing and puffing.

If you haven’t exercised before or it’s been a while, talk to your doctor before starting a new fitness routine.[2]

Here are some ideas for fitting in those 10-minute walking breaks throughout your day:

During work

Suggest a walk-and-talk meeting to discuss a project(chances are your co-workers could use an excuse to break away from their desks too).

On your lunch break

You have got to stop to eat at some point, so why not brown-bag it to save time at the lunch counter? Then use those 10 minutes you save by walking around the building or up the stairwell.

Before your coffee date

Plan to arrive early so you can do a few laps around the block.

After work but before dinner

Walk while the chicken is in the oven.

When it’s time to call your parents or kids at college:

Don your ear buds, pocket your cell phone and hit the sidewalk.

In the parking lot

Yes, it may sound cliché, but parking a little bit out of the way counts too!

Note: These tips are most beneficial when combined with a heart-healthy diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol and rich in fruits, vegetables and grain products that contain some types of dietary fiber.

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