Who decided that the average human being needed to be physically challenged for precisely 3,600 seconds at a time? One hour, no more; no less? For some reason, 4.167 percent of our day has been drilled over and over to be the appropriate amount of time necessary to commit to our daily exercise. That somehow, if you can’t dedicate a full hour, then you shouldn’t bother at all. Think about it: most organized fitness classes are scheduled to run for one hour. Statistics regarding calories burned per activity are almost always given in 60-minute increments. Most people I encounter schedule for one hour on the days they go to the gym, regardless of what they plan to do once there.
It’s no wonder that across the board, the number one excuse for not exercising is: “I don’t have time”. Yes, I will agree that one hour sometimes just seems like too much to sacrifice when considering our jobs, our families, and our sleep requirements.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
What we need to do is overhaul our perspective of what constitutes as a workout. Current research suggests that short bouts of exercise accumulated over time are just as beneficial, if not more so, than one continuous workout. Ten minutes, three times a day might just be as valuable as your usual 30-minute cardio routine. Bonus: according to one study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, these short bursts actually reduce the risk for heart disease by lowering the fat and triglyceride levels in our blood even better than the longer, more time-consuming sweat session. You might ask, “How do I gain any strength if I am only working out for 10 minutes at a time?” Researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario tested an HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout as compared to steady-state. The results showed that there were similar physiological benefits between the two. Meaning, you can achieve the same intended results in a fraction of the time. If you are willing to put in real work.
Interval training methods such as Tabata or circuit training demand that you give your all-out, maximum effort during each round. These rounds represent short, yet attainable goals that you can wrap your mind around. That said, these efforts must push your physical limits and fitness thresholds. Break your own record, every time.
Here are some of my personal favorite ways to stockpile a day’s worth of fitness:
- Don’t just take the stairs; use them as an amazing cardio tool. Skip a step. Carry something heavy up them. Sprint (only if you are actually wearing shoes shaped like feet, ladies- none of that pointy stiletto nonsense).
- Put one of those portable pull-up bars in your office/bathroom doorway and perform three pull-ups on the way in and out of that door.
- Push-ups. Do five at a time and move on.
It really is a lot easier than what you are led to believe by these big-box gyms and pre-packaged, convenience McFitness DVDs. Exercise shouldn’t be a burden. Everything you do adds up. It’s like putting money in the bank. Fit is the new rich.
Jodilyn Stuart is the owner of ModaBody Fitness and has been a fitness professional since 1997. She currently contributes to 303 Magazine as a Fitness and Health writer.