Good news for busy people everywhere.

A new study reported that every little bit of activity you get in can add up to a longer, healthier life — not just when you do it in half hour or more increments.

While advice for the past 30 years as has usually told us to get at least 10 minutes at a time, the latest research from Duke University School of Medicine shows that it doesn’t really matter how you get it, as long as you do. No matter the length of segments people got their exercise, those who moved more were less likely to die over the next six to seven years that those who were less active.

Guidelines typically recommend that people get at least 2.5 hours of moderate exercise every week, or about 30 minutes, five times a week. But while, the 10-minute-at-a-time bench mark was widely accepted, it was in place to encourage people who don’t set aside time specifically for a half hour or hour workout.

But study leader, Dr. William E. Kraus, wanted to see if exercise in even smaller segments was just as beneficial.

As it turns out, walking up that flight of stairs, or to the end of the parking lot all counts toward your exercise clock.

The team used data from a large national health survey where participants wore accelerometers — a device more advanced and inclusive than a simple pedometer that only counts steps. The devices tracked the movements of all 4,840 participants aged 40 and older. Within the next six and a half years, 700 of those people died.

The researchers reported to the Journal of the American Heart Association, that those who got more exercise, no matter how long their sessions were at one time, were less likely to have died.

Best life yet

The benefits of exercise are clear:  it can lower the risk or cancer, support a healthier immune system, decrease symptoms of depression and repair those of heart disease. And it’s never to late to start. Kraus told Today that he tells patients to do what they can, and he recommends wearing a step counter and getting 10,000 steps a day.

On average he finds that people get around 4,000 steps a day just doing their daily routine.

The biggest benefits appeared to go to those people who got between three and five times the minimum recommended amount of exercise, or between 7.5 to 12.5 hours of moderate exercise a week. That’s equivalent to about 1/5 hours of moderate exercise per day.

So while you do have to put in some effort to get your weekly exercise requirement, don’t get discouraged if you don’t have time to carve out a workout session every day. Your body is still thanking you for doing what you already do.

Originally published March 26, 2018.

Also see, All calories are not created equal.

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Meghan is a full-time writer exploring the fun facts behind food. She lives a healthy lifestyle but lives for breakfast, dessert and anything with marinara. She’s thrown away just as many meals as she’s proud of.