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How to Get the Most from Short Workouts

  • Category: LiveSmart
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  • Written By: Baldwin

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Don't have a lot of time to exercise? A short workout may do more good than you think.

Let's face it, not everyone has enough time to work out for a long period of time. Even if they can find the time, some people simply don't want to spend an hour or more going to the gym or committing that time to other types of formal exercise. The good news is that you can reap benefits from exercise even when you don't have much time to devote to working out.

There are no rules about how much time you need to spend or what you need to do to qualify a short workout as "good enough." Any time you spend exercising instead of being sedentary is beneficial. If all you have is a few minutes to get your heart pumping, that's enough and is always better than doing nothing at all.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to short workouts:

  • You can do them anywhere. No need to make a trip to a gym or the track. You can get in a short workout at home, in your office or at the local park. Just doing a few sit-ups before getting into bed or walking up and down the stairs during your lunch hour counts.
  • You can do them for any amount of time. If you can get in at least 10 minutes of activity at a time, that's great. But even if you only have 5 minutes, get moving. Doing that a few times a day really adds up, and each time you do 5 minutes of activity, it's 5 minutes that you're not sitting.
  • Short workouts can be very effective. Many people have embraced the trend of doing short bursts of strenuous exercise – referred to as HIIT (high-intensity interval training). For those who don't want exercise to take up a big chunk of time, stepping up the intensity of a workout can make a difference in minutes, rather than hours. In only 5 or 10 minutes, you can improve your endurance, strengthen your heart and provide other health benefits by performing HIIT-style workouts.
  • Varying the intensity makes a difference. While you may not be able to keep up a very high intensity for an entire workout, however short it is, varying your intensity can have a big impact. HIIT is based on the idea of varying the intensity of your workout. This has been shown to burn more calories than moderate-intensity exercise and it keeps your metabolism going strong. It elevates your heart rate and boosts blood flow to the brain and the rest of your body.
  • Change up what you do to keep it interesting. No need to get bored, even if you're only exercising for a few minutes at a time. You can apply the principles of high-intensity interval training to almost any type of activity you do, such as running, swimming, biking, rowing or stair climbing. Just step up the intensity for a few minutes until it's hard to say more than a few words at a time. If you prefer to not work out at a high intensity, spend a few minutes walking, doing body-weight exercises, gardening or dancing. There are so many ways to keep your body moving throughout the day!

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Date Last Reviewed: September 19, 2023

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Andrew Overman, DPT, MS, COMT, CSCS

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