1. Improve Your Brain Function:
Numerous studies indicate that people who are regularly active have improved memory and cognitive ability (how your brain functions), in addition to a lower risk for depression and emotional disturbances. Physical activity even increases the size of one’s hippocampus, and a bigger brain is a good thing. Many of these benefits occur even after just one bout of activity. And the good news is that as little as 10 minutes can have a positive effect. A recent study in young adults found that 10 minutes of physical activity resulted in improved memory and cognition. An MRI also showed increased communication within the brain.
2. Reduce Your Sitting Time
We need to sit to do many activities from eating to certain types of work, but most of us sit too much. Sitting increases the risk for a host of diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, as well as early death. Because sitting requires very little energy our body effectively shuts down to a slow idle. Getting up and moving around can restart your body’s engine. So if you’ve been sitting for half an hour or more, it’s time to get up and moving. Doing 10 minutes of physical activity will help to interrupt long periods of sitting and reduce blood sugar levels and improve insulin action.
3. Make You Happy
Sometimes when you’re feeling stressed or in a bad mood the last thing you want to do is get up and be active. It’s much easier to sit or lie down and wallow in your mood. But that is the exact thing you shouldn’t do and being active is one of the few things that can brighten you up. When we exercise our body releases hormones called endorphins. Some people refer to these as the happy hormones. Endorphins act as pain supresses and have sedative properties like morphine, but endorphins are natural. A review of studies investigating exercise and happiness found that as little as 10 minutes of physical activity can increase one’s happiness compared to no activity.
4. Lower Your Blood Sugar
Nearly 1 in 10 people in Canada and the US have diabetes. Type II diabetes (the more common diabetes linked to lifestyle) begins when the effect of insulin starts to wear down. As our body becomes less responsive to insulin, our blood sugar rises. When the blood sugar gets too high, we have diabetes. Regular physical activity is associated with a lower risk for diabetes in part because we use sugar for energy when we’re active. The effect of physical activity on blood sugar is also immediate. Going for a 10 minute walk either before a meal or soon after a meal resulted in lower blood sugar compared to walking for longer at other times in the day.
5. Contribute to your Daily Recommended Amount of Activity
It’s recommended that adults get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week, or roughly 20-30 minutes per day. This can also be accumulated throughout the day, so it doesn’t have to be done all at once. Doing a brisk walk, jog, swim, run, or anything that gets your heart pumping and breathing faster counts. So when you get up and do 10 minutes of activity means you’re almost halfway there!
6. Give You a Burst of Energy
If you’re like me, by the time 2 pm hits at work, you’re feeling sluggish and having a tough time concentrating. While a mid-afternoon nap may seem in order that might not look good at work. Alternatively you may wish to grab the nearest cup of coffee. But wait, a short burst of activity can give you a bigger pick-me-up than a cup of coffee. In a group of young women who were chronically tired due to lack of sleep, 10 minutes of stair walking increased mood and energy greater than a 50 mg caffeine pill (more than a cup of coffee).
7. Reduce Stress
With physical activity reducing the risk for depression, making us happier and giving us more energy it should come as no surprise that being active can reduce stress. If we’re stressed, being active can removes us from the stressful situation and can distract the mind. The more engaging the activity, the more distracted we’ll be. Basically, getting our mind to think of something other than what is causing our stress. On a physiological level, in addition to raising endorphins, activity can lower overall cortisol levels, which are associated with higher stress. While cortisol increases immediately after exercise, cortisol levels decrease later on. And if you are able to be active around nature, whether in a park or forest, even better, as nature has a calming effect reducing cortisol as well as blood pressure.
Ten minutes isn’t a lot of time, and the benefits make for a great return on investment. Feel free to share what you get from doing 10 minutes of activity in the comments below.