Just Minutes of Exercise Can Pump You Up.

July 12, 2001 -- Feeling blah? Try going for a short run or taking a spin on your bike. New research shows that as little as 10 minutes of moderate exercise can help liven you up. The study offers yet another reason to get active with your body instead of the TV remote control.

Writing in the July issue of Health Psychology,the study authors say that their findings "complement current recommendations which suggest that to experience positive fitness and health benefits, normal adults should participate in a total of 30 minutes of moderate physical exercise daily, accumulated in short bouts throughout the day." Study authors Cheryl Hansen and Larry C. Stevens are from the department of psychology at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.

Expert Michael F. Roizen, MD, tells WebMD that this study attempts to get specific about one of the many unknown benefits of exercise. "We know there are three separate components of exercise that have different benefits. They are any physical activity like walking, aerobic activity like they did [in this study], and strength training. ... Any exercise probably has the same benefit in short bouts."

Roizen is dean of the school of medicine and vice president for biomedical affairs at State University of New York (SUNY) Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. He also authored the books RealAge: Are You as Young as You Can Be? and The RealAge Diet: Make Yourself Younger With What You Eat.

For the study, 14 volunteers either rode a stationary bike for 10, 20, or 30 minutes or sat quietly for 30 minutes once a week for four weeks. The participants wore a heart rate monitor and were instructed to keep their heart rates at a target level by modifying the speed of their pedaling. They all filled out mood questionnaires before and after the exercise.

Based on the results of the questionnaires, just 10 minutes of exercise improved mood, increased vigor, reduced feelings of fatigue, and helped participants feel more clear-headed. Increasing the exercise to 20 or 30 minutes did not provide any additional mood benefits, but 20 minutes of exercise cleared people's heads better than 10 minutes. Sitting for 30 minutes had no effect on mood.

"The message is that many, maybe all, of the health benefits [associated with exercise] can be obtained with short bouts of possibly any type of exercise," says Roizen. "The great news is that no one has any reason not to exercise if you can get benefits in 10 minutes. Everyone has 10 minutes [to spare]. Whether it's lifting soup cans if you're in a wheelchair, running seriously if you're 18 to 21, or gardening when you're 50 to 70. There are always some physical activities that can be enjoyed."