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Reaching New Year'ss fitness goals not as hard as you might think
Although federal guidelines advocate more than 7 hours of exercise each week for optimal health, there are big benefits in much smaller sessions, something to keep in mind when making New Year's resolutions. - photo by Jennifer Graham
For anyone whose New Year resolution is to become faster, fitter and stronger, theres growing evidence that improvements to health might not take up as much time as you think.

Fitness can be achieved in small increments of time, as can improvements to emotional well-being and general health. This may help people make more achievable New Years resolutions and stick with them longer than a month. (Dont laugh one University of Scranton study showed that nearly one-quarter of people who made resolutions abandoned them during the first week.)

Making more realistic resolutions say, to jog a half-mile a day rather than to train for a marathon may turn out to be better for your health than setting daunting goals that set you up for failure.

This is supported by new research from The Mayo Institute that shows a significant improvement in health can be made by running less than an hour a week, in any increment of time. That means that 10 minutes of running a day, six days a week, over time can accrue into good health.

This complements a previous report, published last year in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, that said even less running as little as five minutes a day is associated with markedly reduced risks of death from all causes and cardiovascular disease.

The researchers found that, compared to people who never run, runners were significantly less likely to die, not only from cardiovascular events but all causes. And the benefit was not just for fast people who run a lot, but slow people who run a little.

Similarly, theres evidence that a little bit of yoga proffers big benefits. A 10-year study out of Columbia University concludes that as little as 12 minutes of yoga can reverse bone loss related to osteoporosis; others have shown that 10 minutes of yoga and breathing exercises can diminish depression.

These findings seem to contradict the U.S. governments physical activity guidelines, which have become more challenging over the past decade. Those guidelines urge 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity for children every day; and 150 minutes of moderate activity plus 75 minutes of vigorous activity for adults over the course of a week.

For even greater benefits, the government says adults should exercise for more than seven hours a week.

Thats great for people who can do it, but to keep those resolutions past Groundhog's Day, a commitment of 10 or 12 minutes a day is a great start. If even that seems daunting, theres evidence that getting up and moving around for even two minutes every hour might help you live longer if your job requires you to sit.
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