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Have you ever thought about going to the gym, then realizing you're running out of time, and skipping a day of exercise altogether? It's easy to fall into an "all or nothing" mentality when exercising, which is why the latest trend in microdosing throughout the day is a good thing. In a nutshell, microdosing, also known as occasional physical activity, involves accomplishing an exercise goal in a short period of time from morning to night. Emphasize the word short.
"The government's physical activity guidelines used to say you should accumulate exercise for at least 10 minutes, but the latest version says these exercises can be done at any time," said Dr Jessica Matthews, a certified private Coach and Assistant Professor of Kinesiology at the University of Cape Loma Nazalena, Santiago. "Even a minute of exercise is valuable and can have a measurable impact on your health."
In fact, exercising regularly throughout the day is even more beneficial than sitting for 14 hours and then hitting the gym for 45 minutes. You should be thankful for the negative effects of sitting still on your heart health. "Yes, organized exercise is good and can help you achieve your fitness goals, but any form of physical activity can keep you fit if you do it regularly," says Matthews. "Being active, even by the little bit, helps prevent and manage chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension. It also helps with mood, cognitive function, and weight management."
So what does microdosing look like? It takes every opportunity to raise your heart rate — even if it's just hurried up a flight of stairs, hauling a few heavy bags of groceries out of your car, speeding up for a few minutes while walking the dog, raking some leaves into you front yard, or bring a heavy trash can to the curb. Doing some high-intensity bursts—maybe run a block with your dog—would be better.
Not only can aerobic exercise like walking be microdosed; so can weight training. "Guidelines say you should be doing 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio a week, but you should also be doing muscle-strengthening activities two days a week," says Matthews. "So, whenever you have time, do some short squats or push-ups. Anyway, if you add more activity to your day, you can meet and exceed the guide in all sorts of creative ways. It can build up."
However, there is one very important thing to remember. In order for this activity to last 150 minutes per week, it needs to be of moderate intensity. "Walking into the bathroom doesn't count," Matthews said. Her way of measuring whether you're moving hard enough is: You can still have a conversation, but do you need to stop every now and then to catch your breath? "That's how you can tell if your heart rate is fast enough," she says. "You can also use your Fitbit device to see how much exercise you're doing and when you're sitting too much."