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Take 10 to preserve mind and body


Rebecca Gants
Senior Information Specialist, West Central Region
University of Missouri Cooperative Media Group
Phone: 816-812-2534

Published: Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Story source:

Lynda Johnson M.S., R.D., 660-584-3658

BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. -A mounting body of research shows that regular, short stints of moderate exercise can improve brain function and lower risk for many chronic diseases, said a University of Missouri extension nutrition and health education specialist.

"Incorporating 10-minute bouts of exercise may be a way to begin making physical activity part of your lifestyle, thus preserving mind and body," said Lynda Johnson.

Researchers conducting the Conselice Study of Brain Aging at University Hospital in Bologna, Italy, assessed cognitive function of 749 adults and found regular, moderate exercise substantially lowered risk for vascular dementia. They determined that routine activities such as climbing stairs, walking and gardening provided brain benefits similar to more rigorous physical activities. The researchers suggest this is because exercise enhances blood flow to the brain, which may have a protective effect by reducing levels of cortisol and other stress hormones generally considered toxic to the brain.

An article in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association cited studies conducted at Harvard University and Brigham Women's Hospital indicating that moderate, regular exercise improved heart health even without weight loss.

In 2007 the American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine updated physical activity recommendations for adults of all ages to improve health and maintain functional fitness, independence and quality of life. The basic guidelines suggest moderate-intensity aerobic activities for 30 minutes a day, five days per week and strength training twice a week, along with stretching and balance exercises.

If you haven't been exercising, these recommendations may seem overwhelming. Johnson has tips for getting into the habit of exercising 10 minutes at a time:

  • Walking: First thing in the morning or when arriving home from work, take a brisk five-minute walk down the street and back home again. Keep a pair of comfortable shoes in your car or by your desk so you can take a 10-minute walk during your lunch break or at the mall. Walk the stairs at work for 10 minutes.
  • Stretching: There is no better way to relax, reduce stress and rejuvenate than by stretching. Yoga incorporates a great deal of stretching, which can be done at your desk or at home. The Web site My Daily Yoga offers free, easy yoga demonstrations (
  • Strength building: Keep a set of 3-, 5- or 10-pound hand weights and ankle weights near the television so you can strength train while watching your favorite program. Resistance bands also make strength-training exercises convenient when traveling or at the office.