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A Little Goes a Long Way

By Delsie McCoy, MS


You’ve heard it over and over: “Exercise is important for maintaining weight loss.” You know that fitness professionals recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate activity on most days of the week. Yet you may still find yourself unable to follow an exercise plan for any length of time. Many bariatric patients face this challenge. So, you’re not alone. According to the CDC, 33 percent of Americans never exercise and only 11 percent currently meet the minimum recommended amount of physical activity. The reasons vary from lack of time to painful joints to lack of interest, among others.


But, what if the recommendations were different? What if all you had to do were 10 minutes a day? Does this sound too good to be true? Well, yes, and no.  Ideally, everyone should exercise 30 minutes several days a week. However, to sedentary adults, the idea of exercising 30 to 60 minutes a day can seem daunting. While 10 minutes a day isn’t going to transform your body or cause weight loss, 10 minutes of exercise does provide some important health benefits. Research shows that just 5 to10 minutes of activity improves mood and boosts self-esteem. Longer bouts of exercise did not equate to greater psychological benefits. New research shows that short bouts of activity may strengthen self-control. In two separate studies, the area of the brain responsible for feelings of cravings was less reactive to pictures of tempting images after exercise than prior to exercise. Higher self-esteem and better self-control improves one’s ability to maintain intake of a healthy diet. Following your dietitian’s guidelines for eating is vital to maintaining your weight loss.


If you’re unable to meet the goal of 30 to 60 minutes of activity on most days, don’t write off exercise completely. Try setting a new goal of just 10 minutes a day. You’ll feel better. Plus, you’ll be more likely to stay on track with your dietary goals. Perhaps, one day you may find you want to increase your exercise goals as well!