We live in a fast paced world where time is precious. Being a personal trainer I can fully relate to not having much time. I do hear a lot though that people ‘don’t have time to exercise’. I agree that some people don’t have as much time as others but I would disagree in most cases that people don’t have time.

Short intense workouts are becoming all the rage in today’s society, they take limited time and if done properly can really give you a good workout.

Some sceptics would question what benefits you can really get from a 10-20 minute workout. Well it is seriously a lot better than nothing! If done properly using the correct training methods such as interval, fartlek and tabata you can really exhaust yourself in a short period of time. We burn a lot more calories the harder we go, the only problem is we can’t go as hard as we like for as long.

Initiatives such as 5×30 are becoming increasingly popular. You basically perform some form of exercise lasting 30 minutes 5 days a week.

The most important factor really is what you do in the workout. If you compare two workouts:

1. Walk at 6km/h for 20 min.
2. Walk at 6km/h for 60min.

Then as expected workout 2 is much more beneficial as you are doing 3 times as much. If we altered workout 1 and added periods of jogging or increased the gradient then it could easily match the benefits of workout 2 in 1/3 of the time!

If you go to the gym with a clear 20 minute workout in mind with timed rests, you can get there at 8:00am and leave at 8:20am. You have then done your exercise for the day and can go off to your daily routines safe in the knowledge of doing something good for your health. You may feel a bit guilty about leaving the gym after such a short period of time but I can guarantee you’ve done more than the guy standing by the mats talking, who has been there for an hour!

The only word of caution when adopting the high intensity approach to training is you need to have a decent degree of fitness before you try anything too intense. People new to exercise can experiment with interval training e.g. mix periods of walking with jogging, but should not try things such as sprints before getting to a reasonable level of fitness.

As we exercise our body uses carbs and then muscle and protein as an energy source. With shorter workouts the body will deplete your supply of sugars but will not allow it enough time to move onto the next source which would be the crucial muscles and protein.

Even ten minute workouts 2-3 times a day are great. You could do it in the morning in front of the TV before work, on your lunch break, before you go to bed. I don’t think anyone can honestly say they don’t have ten minutes a day to workout, it really does add up.

By performing several short workouts you will still receive all of the health benefits which come from exercising. I would say that everyone should be exercising for at least 150 minutes a week, highlighted by the 5 x 30 min initiative. If you have real weight loss aspirations you want to be doubling this figure really.

This is by no means what so ever a post to question the effectiveness of a 60 minute workout, this is just to raise awareness on how every little bit of exercise helps. Whether it is 10 minutes 3 times a day, or a quick 30 minute blast in the gym it really is good for you and it really should be done.

So who can’t dedicate 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week to help you with weight loss, lower blood pressure, improved mood, improved appearance, reduced risk of illness and a dramatically increased fitness?

Exercise is linked with improved duration of life, so make time for it.

Thanks for reading,

Richard Clarke

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