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‘Every Minute Counts’ is the overarching message from researchers regarding physical activity

KU Medical Center researcher is co-author of commentary on exercise and physical activity published in JAMA

smiling man and smiling woman each wearing backpacks hiking up a hill
The benefits of physical activity are not limited to those who exercise every day or to those who exercise only the recommended 150 minutes a week.

KU Medical Center exercise researcher John Jakicic, Ph.D., has a message for weekend warriors, the elderly and those hampered by disability: Get moving. It doesn’t matter when you do it or even whether you exercise enough to meet the federal national guidelines for activity.

“Every minute counts,” said Jakicic, a research professor in the Division of Physical Activity and Weight Management in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

Jakicic is a co-author of a commentary published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that points out that the benefits of physical activity come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. The comment piece accompanies an article detailing a study highlighting the flexibility with which physical activity can be accumulated to achieve health benefits.

Jakicic’s message in JAMA, co-authored with Peter T. Katzmarzyk, Ph.D., a professor at Louisiana State University’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center, is deceptively simple. It’s never too late, too little or too concentrated to be of benefit—just get moving.  “While we recommend at least 150 minutes per week of physical activity similar to brisk walking, health benefits can accrue at even lower levels of physical activity. Even some activity is better than none.”

Here are the key takeaways:

  • Reach for the recommended 150 minutes per week, but something is better than nothing.
  • Exercise when you can, how you can.
  • Aim for a brisk walk or some other form of physical activity if walking is difficult due to mobility limitations. Do the activity at the speed that you can as even that has benefit.
  • Know that if you are a “weekend warrior,” and can find time to engage in physical activity only two days per week, you can still accrue benefits from exercise.
  • Do what you can. If mobility issues or lack of time prevent you from building your exercising to 150 minutes a week, you can still experience tremendous benefits from less.
  • Build up to more minutes or a faster pace of activity over time if you can.
  • Get started. It’s never too late to benefit from an active lifestyle.

Jakicic was appointed to the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee, convened by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and he has served on numerous national and international committees to develop physical activity guidelines for the prevention and treatment of obesity and other chronic conditions.

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