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 continued...
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
For instance, he says, if you want to improve your physical
performance - say, increase your speed in a 10K race or win a power-lifting
contest - working out for a few minutes a day probably won't do you much
If you're interested in improving a specific aspect of your
fitness, such as strength, endurance, or flexibility, quick workouts might
help. But, he says, that's only if it comes on top of any exercise
routine you're already following.
"If the eight minutes of exercise is in addition to what
you're already doing, excess calories will be burned, and - assuming your
caloric intake doesn't change - this deficit will result in better weight
management," he tells WebMD.
Hill adds that only so many calories can be burned in eight
minutes, regardless of the intensity or the type of activity. Assuming you burn
about 100 calories in each daily eight-minute session, burning a pound of fat
(3,500 calories) would take you 35 days.