General Question

marmoset's avatar

Do little bits of exercise add up in a meaningful way, or is sustained exercise the only kind that matters to your body?

Asked by marmoset (1311points) May 8th, 2009

For example, walking up and down four flights of stairs five times over the course of a day—is that way less useful than walking up and down 20 flights all at once? I have heard exercise doesn’t really ‘count’ unless you sustain a raised heart rate for a long time, but there must be some benefit to very tiny bits of exercise like a few flights of stairs?

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4 Answers

GAMBIT's avatar

By all means keep at it.

One of the many benefits of doing a “small bit” of exercise is that your body will get used to it. If you are now able to walk four steps in a month you could work yourself up to six.
Never feel that any attempt is futile. Your body will adjust to what it can and can’t handle in due time.

Dorkgirl's avatar

I have read many articles that indicate that all activity is good and that the benefits of intermittent activity can be as beneficial as extended workouts.
I agree with @GAMBIT every little bit helps, so keep moving!

dynamicduo's avatar

Yes, there is always benefit to even small exercise bits. They do add up.

It just happens to be that when one does hard, intense exercise, more energy is burned as your muscles move more, and it may also rev your body up such that while you are calming down and showering, your body is still burning a few more calories. There’s probably some different body chemicals released when engaging in longer periods of exercise, which may have an overall impact on the efficiency.

The thought that exercise equals high heart rate is not true, as evidenced by pilates or yoga which will leave you feeling tired and well exercised despite not keeping a high heart rate all the time.

It is true though that you lose weight the fastest while engaging in more cardio versus strength training. So it really depends on your goal. If your goal is to be more active, then certainly going for a brisk walk over lunch or taking stairs over the elevator will help, and as @GAMBIT says it’s helpful for getting your body used to more activity. However, if your goal is pure weight loss, then you will not see immediate nor drastic benefits from small contributions, and I have a hunch (but no data) that you would not lose weight at the same rate if you substituted one 20-flight walk with 5 4-flight ones.

YARNLADY's avatar

My doctor told me to walk around the outside of my house at least once every hour. It does add up.

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