Do a Little, Get a Lot
August 8, 2007 5:03am CST
The notion that good health can come in small tidbits is not really new. Research showing that making small changes can add up to a big difference has been quietly accumulating for a while. For example, a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2004 found that adding just 30 minutes of walking per day was enough to prevent weight gain and encourage moderate weight loss. And if 30 minutes is still too big a bite? Another study, published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, ound that three brisk 10-minute walks per day were as effective as a daily 30-minute walk in decreasing risk factors for heart disease. "Just the act of going from sedentary to moderately active gives you the greatest reduction in your risks," says Helene Glassberg, MD, director of the Preventive Cardiology and Lipid Center at the Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia. But it's not only in fitness where small changes can make a difference. The same principles apply at the kitchen table (and the office snack bar). "Reducing fat intake, cutting down on sugar, eating a piece of fruit instead of a candy bar -- over time, these things can make a difference," As long as the changes are moving you toward your goal -- be it weight loss, a reduction in cholesterol or blood pressure, or better blood sugar control -- you can get there by aking baby steps, she says. "A lot of bad eating habits are about not taking charge of your life, and that attitude is often reflected in other areas," On the other hand, she says, when you make small changes at the kitchen table, the rewards may show up in other areas of your life.