Can you really shape up in just minutes a day? A quick workout routine - or simple lifestyle changes -- may fit your goals.
Beyond strength training
But while Cruise touts the health benefits of strength training
- it keeps your bones strong and your muscles toned - he does not discount the
value of other forms of exercise. "If you want to keep your heart and lungs
healthy, then you need cardiovascular exercise," says Cruise, who includes
a section on power walking in his book.
Indeed, the Institute of Medicine recommended last fall that
most Americans get a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each
day (other health and medical organizations recommend at least 30 minutes of
daily activity). But there is scientific evidence for the benefits of short
bursts of exercise -- at least when the exercise is the aerobic type.
For example, in a study published in the journal Medicine
& Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers found that three brisk,
10-minute walks taken throughout the day can be at least as effective as one
30-minute walk at reducing cardiovascular risk and improving mood.
The study involved 21 sedentary men and women in their mid-40s.
Five days a week for a six-week period, the volunteers either took 10-minute
walks three times per day, or a brisk walk lasting 30 minutes once a day. Then,
after a two-week rest period, the two groups swapped their walking routines and
continued for another six weeks. Both groups saw a slight drop in total
cholesterol levels and improved their levels of "good" cholesterol and
their aerobic ability. Both the long and short walks brought decreases in
tension and anxiety.
And James Hill, PhD, director of the Clinical Nutrition
Research Unit at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, who
recently analyzed two national surveys of U.S. eating habits, believes most
people can avoid weight gain by simply cutting back 100 calories daily - or by
burning 100 extra calories a day. In the Feb. 7 issue of Science, Hill
and his colleagues write, "this can be achieved by small changes in
behavior, such as 15 minutes per day of walking."
When 8 Minutes Is Not Enough
Ken Turley, PhD, assistant professor of kinesiology and
director of the Wellness Center at Harding University in Searcy, Ark., says the
value of quick workouts depends on what you're aiming for