by Michelle Sutton-Kerchner
The day’s end races toward you like a track star nearing the finish line. Can’t fit in your usual workout? Don’t skip it. Skim it …
The Short of It
Short workouts keep momentum going when you have limited time or energy. They reinforce your commitment to a healthy lifestyle. Plus, when you’re super busy, they provide an outlet for tension and a chance to reconnect with yourself.
Studies show short workouts also can be effective in helping reach fitness goals. Although you cannot lose weight from a 10-minute workout, it does contribute to your efforts. One specific study from Southern Illinois University proved 11 minutes of strength training, three times weekly, increased resting metabolic rate (caloric burn during inactive periods).
Another study reported intense 30-second intervals of exercise for only 2.5 minutes helped participants burn an extra 200 calories throughout the rest of their day. Wow!
Other benefits of short, circuit-type workouts include improved blood pressure readings, better heart health, and reduced diabetes risk. Published research suggests they help improve bone density. A study published in the journal The Lancet found 15 minutes of daily exercise added an average of three years to the lifespan of study participants. What a great return on your investment!
The take-away: When it comes to exercise, something is always better than nothing—especially if that something has intervals of sweating involved.
Your Fast Fitness Routine
One of the best ways to manage a quick workout is through interval or circuit training. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is an excellent method. It can be adjusted to a short timescale and contain a variety of exercises. Easier segments strategically placed between intense bursts allow you to accomplish a lot in a little time.
To be most effective, short workouts should encompass your entire body. Work several muscle groups simultaneously and save time. You’ll also burn calories more efficiently, during your workout and afterward. Mix cardio, strengthening, and flexibility training.
Short workouts can be less formal. Fit them in at random. Take a flash-mob approach. Break into exercise for 10 minutes during a gap in your busy day. Take advantage of those times you have a brief interval between commitments or events.
Inspiration: One of the Center instructors does isolated Pilates moves while waiting to board a plane. Make it happen!
Short Workout Sample
The American College of Sports Medicine created this high-intensity circuit training program. Give it a try:
Time investment: 7 minutes
Location: Fitness Floor, or any place with a floor for those times you just can’t make it to the Center!
Repetitions: 2-3 times (modify to meet your time constraints)
- Jumping jacks – total body
- Wall sit — lower body
- Push-up — upper body
- Abdominal crunch – core
- Step-up onto chair — total body
- Squat — lower body
- Triceps dip on chair — upper body
- Plank — core
- High knees/running in place — total body
- Lunge – lower body
- Push-up and rotation — upper body
- Side plank – core
Ask a personal trainer for variations, modifications, or demonstrations of any unfamiliar exercises. The goal is to tackle the essentials– cardio, strength, core, and flexibility—at well-timed intervals that provide an appropriate challenge for your fitness level.
Keep your fitness routine strong! When you can’t manage your full workout, it pays to accommodate your schedule. You’ll feel less resentful and more confident in your commitment to health. And that’s fuel for your next workout.
“High-Intensity Circuit Training Using Body Weight: Maximum Results with Minimal Investment,” by Brett Klika and Chris Jordan, at acsm.org.