Using data collected as part of the Energy Balance Study at the University of South Carolina, researchers were allowed to objectively measure sleep, physical activity and sedentary time instead of relying on self-reports, Meyer said.
In the study, participants ranging in age from 21 to 35 spent 10 days wearing an armband that tracked their energy expenditure.
» RELATED: Study: Exercise improves memory, boosts blood flow to brain
“It may be easier for people to change their behavior if they feel it’s doable and doesn’t require a major change,” said Meyer, director of the Wellbeing and Exercise Lab at Iowa State. “Replacing sedentary time with housework or other light activities is something they may be able to do more consistently than going for an hour-long run.”
Getting more sleep is another doable change. Meyer said going to bed and waking up at the same time each day allows your body to recover and has multiple benefits.
It wasn’t just sleeping and light activity that were associated with improvements, however. Researchers discovered lower body fat and BMI resulted from moderate to vigorous activity.
“With everything happening right now, this is one thing we can control or manage and it has the potential to help our mental health,” Meyer said.