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Can you move 11 minutes a day? You'll live longer if you do

There is no denying that 2020 has hampered activity levels. Between the Zoom meetings, Netflix binges and virtual cocktail hours, increased sitting is a pandemic-driven reality for many. And studies abound citing the myriad health risks of prolonged sitting. But there is good news! Despite all that sedentary time, with as little as 11 minutes of movement a day, you can increase your life span, a recent study has found.

You might be wondering about the hour-per-day measurement that you've been hearing about for years. It's true; past studies, including a popular study from 2016, had originally put the daily exercise target at 60 to 75 minutes for mortality benefits. However, that study was based on self-reported data, which this latest study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, found to be flawed due to people misremembering their actual activity levels.

Taking a more objective approach, scientists at the Norwegian School of Sports Medicine based their research on the use of activity monitors to track exercise versus sedentary time. The results showed that participants who exercised 35 minutes per day saw the biggest statistical difference on life span. Yet just 11 minutes of moderate exercise — equivalent to a brisk walk — still had a noticeable positive impact. What's more, both time frames were positively impactful, regardless of the amount of sitting.

Most anyone can move 11 minutes a day

While 35 minutes of exercise daily is better for your health, a lower barrier to entry makes it easier to get even the most inactive among us moving — and still increasing your life span.

So, how do you do it?

The simplest way is with a walk outside or on the treadmill at your local gym. Walking is one of the best exercises. With winter weather keeping people inside and Covid regulations limiting access to public gyms, though, more creative, accessible means may be necessary to effectively get in your 11 minutes at home. 

Below are a few ways to consider.

Important note: If you experience pain while performing any of the exercises, stop immediately. Check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.

Jogging in place elevates your heart rate -- an ideal way to burn calories during the winter months.

Do 4 sets of a 3-minute body-weight exercise sequence

Four rounds of three minutes add up to 12 minutes, but it's OK — you can handle the bonus minute. 

Depending on the exercises you use, you may go at a slightly different pace during each round, making it about 11 minutes.

For proper push-up form, make sure your upper and lower body are straight to establish the plank position.

When selecting your exercises, try to pick a sequence of movements that will equate to a full-body workout of moderate effort. For instance, avoid doing only upper-body movements unless you plan to do lower-body movements the next day.

Push-ups build upper body strength.

Ideally, do a combo, like the example below, determining the number of repetitions for each exercise based on your fitness level and maintaining a three-minute sequence for the time frame.

Sample three-minute exercise sequence:

  • 10 to 25 push-ups
  • 25 to 40 body-weight squats
  • One minute of jogging in place

Practice a yoga flow

Yoga can be a great way to get your body moving while also relieving stress and fostering your mind-body connection. If you've been practicing yoga for a while, you should be able to unroll your mat, set a timer for 11 minutes and go through some sun salutations or any number of combinations of your favorite yoga poses.

If you're newer to yoga, no worries. A quick search of "11 minutes of yoga" on YouTube offers multiple free options for you to follow along.

Alternately, you could keep it really simple and practice one of my Minute MoFlows 11 times. These minute-long, yoga-inspired mobility sequences take your body through fundamental movements in all planes of motion.

Dance like no one is watching

I admit it — this is my favorite way to fit 11 minutes of movement into my day. There are few things as fun and liberating as dancing to your favorite tunes in the comfort of your own home. And when you're home alone, you don't have to dance like no one is watching; no one really is watching! It's just you and your jam. It only takes three or four songs to get to your 11-minute threshold, so drop your inhibitions and get your groove on.

Want some ideas for your playlist?

Here are three upbeat songs to get you moving that will fulfill your 11 minutes:

  • "Happy" by Pharrell Williams (3:52)
  • "Uptown Funk" by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars (4:30)
  • "HandClap" by Fitz and the Tantrums (3:13)

If you live in a full house, dancing alone might not always be an option. Add some family bonding time and mental health benefits by doing a family dance party.

See how easy it is to fit in 11 minutes of daily exercise? You can do it. In fact, you owe it to yourself after getting through this past year. Although no one can give you a do-over of 2020, you can make up for lost time by adding a little more to your life span.

Dana Santas, known as the "Mobility Maker," is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and mind-body coach in professional sports, and is the author of the book "Practical Solutions for Back Pain Relief."

Source: CNN

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