I get it. You're busy. I'm busy, too. Like you, I find it hard to carve out 30 or 40 minutes a day to exercise.
When I don't, I feel shortsighted because I know working out is good for my health, reduces my stress level and ultimately gives me more energy.
Even so, the excuse "I just don't have the time" falls all too easily from my lips. Maybe that's true for you too.
Well, that excuse doesn't work anymore. Not for me. Not for you. Not for anyone.
According to The New York Times, you get the same health benefits if you spend a single minute on strenuous exercise as 45 minutes of moderate exercise.
Here's what that means in terms of scheduling your busy day: 10 minutes a day, three days a week and you'll be as healthy as your average gym rat.
Yes, I'm talking 30 minutes a week--total--and you'll be as healthy as the irritating co-worker down the hall who's training for a marathon. Maybe healthier.
At McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, scientists tested three groups of couch potatoes--men for whom daily exercise meant lifting a remote control.
Three times a week, the first group did a 10 minute "interval" workout, the second group did a 45 minute moderate exercise workout, and the third group did nothing.
I'll give the details of the "interval" later in the post; suffice it to say that it consists of only 1 minute of strenuous effort.
Twelve weeks later, the first two groups experienced huge health improvements relative to the couch potatoes, whose health remained unchanged (i.e. in decline.)
But here's the thing: over that 12 weeks, the first group spent only 36 minutes total doing strenuous effort, while second group spent 27 hours huffing and puffing.
That's a big difference in time commitment to get the same positive result.
Needless to say, I had to try this out, so I'm writing this immediately after my first "interval" workout. Here's how I did it.
In the McMaster study, they used stationary bikes; I have an un-powered elliptical machine in my media room.
In the study, the full 10 minutes "interval" workout consisted of the following routine:
- 2 minutes warm-up
- 20 seconds strenuous
- 2 minutes cool-down
- 20 seconds strenuous
- 2 minutes cool down
- 20 second strenuous
- 3 minutes cool down
To time the intervals, I downloaded a free app, Simplified Internal Timer (SIT), into my iPhone. For yucks, I streamed an episode of "The Flash" while I worked out.
Some quick observations: the strenuous intervals were so short that they didn't feel burdensome and the variation in activity made the time seem to pass more quickly.
I felt a bit winded during the cool downs but after the final cool down felt fine, especially after a quick morning shower.
What's great about this is that I absolutely know that I can carve out 10 minutes three times a week. No more excuses.