The Benefits of Short Workouts
I have really been struggling with my weight management lately, but this happens to me every winter. Rather than get down on myself about it, all I can do is try to fight against it, and not give up.
The main reason I gain weight in the winter is because I become less active. The other obvious reason is that I am more sedentary now that I am in school. Sitting all day, whether it’s on the computer, typing, or reading, is not good for weight maintenance!
So, I’ve been trying to be more active throughout the day, even if it’s only in short bursts. This reminded me of an article I had published in Rolling Out magazine a few years ago, about the benefits of short workouts. It still applies and is a useful reminder right now. I’ve reposted the article below.
“The key is in not spending time, but in investing it.” –Stephen R. Covey
Rainy season has begun in the great Pacific Northwest, and I find myself skipping workouts more frequently. With impending work, family, and holiday demands, it’s been way too easy to excuse myself from my usual exercise regimen.
However, I do always manage to sneak in a couple hours of fitness activity a week, no matter how busy I am. Sometimes I wonder if my short sessions are even worth it, so I decided to refresh my memory and do some research. Just as I thought, working out for just 15 minutes–on most days of the week–can have significant benefits.
According to a feature on ABC News, the more overweight and out of shape you are, the greater the benefit will be. Cardiovascular (heart healthy) fitness can improve in just a few weeks of short bouts of exercise if the intensity level is high enough. This can be really encouraging for someone just starting out, who fatigues after the first few minutes of exercise.
Although experts recommend a minimum of 30 continuous minutes of moderate to high-intensity activity five times per week, health benefits can be achieved in less than half of that.
An article in the New York Times reported that “even a single minute of intense exercise, embedded within an otherwise easy ten-minute workout can improve fitness and health.” If you’re like 80 percent of Americans who are reportedly too busy to meet the minimum exercise requirements for optimal health, you’re fooling yourself.
Being crunched for time is literally and scientifically not an excuse.
The American Council on Exercise (ACE) has found that to maintain (or even lose) weight and improve health and fitness, you can get away with just 75 minutes of (vigorous) activity per week. That’s only 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week! Of course, if you have more time, even better. Be sure to include at least 2 sessions of strength training and work up to five hours of moderate exercise per week, or two and a half hours of high intensity movement.
Things to Remember: Interval training equals vigorous training.
You want to do at least 30 seconds of (very uncomfortable, between 7 and 9 on the RPE Scale) of high-intensity training. This should be interspersed with three to four minutes of recovery (low to moderate effort). In as little as three weeks, you can see improvements in cardiovascular capacity, oxygen utilization, energy, and blood sugar levels.
To sum it up, the shorter the length of the workout, the harder your output should be. Instead of blaming your busy schedule for your inactive and out-of-shape lifestyle, focus on getting the best fitness and health return on your exercise investment!
Revisiting this information was useful for me; I hope it was for you too!
The photos I’ve included in this post are from last March. I did a strict, five week diet and fitness regimen, and by being disciplined, I achieved some great results. I am using these pics as motivation to stay focused and consistent. Use your own photos as motivation! 🙂