movement workplace wellness

Study: Make Movement Frequent — Even for Short Periods of Time

We know that frequency of movement matters and is a key part of a well-run workplace wellness program. What about length of time?

We previously noted a report from AJMC.com: “Higher recreational and non-recreational activity is linked to a lower risk of mortality and cardiovascular disease (CVD), regardless of a country’s economic level, according to a new study published by The Lancet.” 

The study is titled The effect of physical activity on mortality and cardiovascular disease in 130 000 people from 17 high-income, middle-income, and low-income countries: the PURE study.

It states what many businesses who engage well-run workplace wellness programs already know: “Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death worldwide and a major economic global burden… 23% of the world’s population is estimated to be insufficiently active and WHO has recommended a decrease in insufficient physical activity of 10% (of the aforementioned 23%) by 2020.”

Length of Time?

Now a new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association addresses the question: Does length of time matter for movement to matter?

The study is titled “Moderate‐to‐Vigorous Physical Activity and All‐Cause Mortality: Do Bouts Matter?” The background: “The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults accumulate moderate‐to‐vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in bouts of ≥10 minutes for substantial health benefits. To what extent the same amount of MVPA accumulated in bouts versus sporadically reduces mortality risk remains unclear.”

The New York Times reviewed the study and reports, “Walk for two minutes. Repeat 15 times. Or walk for 10 minutes, thrice. The benefits for longevity appear to be almost exactly the same, according to an inspiring new study of physical activity patterns and life spans.”

“It finds that exercise does not have to be prolonged in order to be beneficial. It just has to be frequent.”

Indeed, the researchers conclude: “Despite the historical notion that physical activity needs to be performed for a minimum duration to elicit meaningful health benefits, we provide novel evidence that sporadic and bouted MVPA are similarly associated with substantially reduced mortality.”

For workplace wellness program design — and those who focus on engagement — the message is clear: Helping employees integrate frequent, but short bursts of movement is worth the payoff.