When it comes to exercise, it is important to remember that something is always better than nothing. As simple as that sounds, for most people it is a difficult thing to accept, whether you are a regular exerciser, or someone who hasn’t ever worked out. We assume that the more we do, the better. While there are optimal amounts of time you should be exercising, even short, and I mean very short, bouts of exercise can be highly effective.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous cardiovascular activity, and 2 days of strength training per week. While those metrics will promote some pretty great physical results, even bouts of 10 minutes of exercise can have a positive impact on your health. This fact is super critical and should be very motivating for those who lack the time or drive/motivation to do the weekly recommendations.
Let’s start by talking about those of you who can’t seem to get your butt into the gym; I’ll refer to you as the “non-exerciser.” You probably couldn’t imagine trying the hit the goals I mentioned above. You don’t have to. But anyone, and I mean anyone, can find 10 minutes every other day to move more. Get up 10 minutes earlier and do a basic strength circuit with push ups and sit ups. Take 10 minutes during your lunch break to go for a brisk walk. Those types of 10-minute sessions will give you benefits ranging from improved heart health to increases in overall strength and metabolism. So if you aren’t doing anything, 10 minutes every other day is a great place to begin. It is very realistic to do and has significant health benefits.
When it comes to fitness, 10-minute sessions to the non-exerciser can act like a gateway drug. You start with 10 minutes. When it becomes a habit, increase to 15-minute sessions and so forth. The next thing you know, you will be hitting the ACSM guidelines. But don’t forget, even at 10 minutes you are getting a pretty healthy return.
Now, let’s move on to the regular exerciser. A regular exerciser hits the ACSM guidelines most of the time. The kryptonite to a regular exerciser is when lift gets in the way: work is holding you captive 24/7; your kids have you traversing the county; or your in laws are in town. When you, the regular exerciser, don’t have time to do your 3 days of classes, or your hour-long weight training sessions, you don’t do anything because you think it’s just not worth it. As I said above, that’s not true. Very short workouts do have benefits. Yes, you are not burning as many calories as you normally would in your cardio kickbox class. True, you are not getting as strong as you would spending an hour with your trainer. But you are still getting enough benefit to make it worth doing. On top of that, you stay on track. The greater the lapse between workouts, the harder it is to get back on track.
What I recommend for you all or nothing, Type A regular exercisers is to have what I call a default workout. Create both a 10-minute cardio and a 10-minute strength training routines. Something you can do anywhere, anytime. You may be surprise at the butt kicking you can give yourself in just 10 minutes. By having “default workouts,” you always have something to fall back on and keep you in the habit of exercising.
Whether you’re a non-exerciser or a regular exerciser, get out of your head and accept that there is significant benefit to short duration exercise. It’s not because I said so, it’s because science says so. Then create a few 10-minute workouts. These provide either a place to start or something during those time-crunched parts of your life. You will be prepared. While you should strive to meet the ASCM recommendations for maximum health benefit, you can still move towards your goals with your 10-minute workouts. Let’s face it; we all have an extra 10 minutes; so use it to MOVE. Ok then, stop reading and go for a 10-minute jog!