Moderate to vigorous physical activity and weight outcomes: does every minute count?

Am J Health Promot. Sep-Oct 2013;28(1):41-9. doi: 10.4278/ajhp.120606-QUAL-286. Epub 2013 Mar 4.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to test if moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in less than the recommended ≥10-minute bouts related to weight outcomes.

Design: Secondary data analysis.

Setting: Random sample from the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population included in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

Participants: A total of 4511 adults aged 18 to 64 years from the 2003-2006 NHANES.

Method: Clinically measured body mass index (BMI) and overweight/obese status were regressed on accelerometer measures of minutes per day in higher-intensity long bouts (≥10 minutes, ≥2020 accelerometer counts per minute [cpm]), higher-intensity short bouts (<10 minutes, ≥2020 cpm), lower-intensity long bouts (≥10 minutes, 760-2019 cpm), and lower-intensity short bouts (<10 minutes, 760-2019 cpm). Socioeconomic and demographic characteristics were controlled.

Results: Both higher-intensity short bouts and long bouts of PA related to lower BMI and risk of overweight/obesity. Neither lower-intensity short bouts nor long bouts related to BMI or risk of overweight/obesity.

Conclusion: The current ≥10-minute MVPA bouts guideline was based on health benefits other than weight outcomes. Our findings showed that for weight gain prevention, accumulated higher-intensity PA bouts of <10 minutes are highly beneficial, supporting the public health promotion message that "every minute counts."

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Overweight / prevention & control
  • Physical Exertion
  • Sex Distribution
  • Time Factors
  • United States
  • Young Adult