Trying to fit exercise into a busy day can be a struggle to find a 30–45-minute window. However, research has found that mini workouts and accumulated exercises over the day are as effective as one complete session. Studies show that short workout sessions take the place of one long workout by breaking up the routine into several small ones and are just as effective.
Time of Exercise
According to the CDC and its Physical Activity Guidelines, adults should focus on a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise weekly, along with strength training at least two days per week. The workouts should focus on total-body targeting the major muscle groups. However, a long session can be broken up into several mini workouts to achieve the same benefits and achieve the same number of minutes.
Benefits of Mini Workouts
The benefits of short, multiple exercise sessions are that they provide increased flexibility in an individual’s daily schedule, allowing them to focus on their health while navigating family, work, and other obligations. Performing mini-workouts throughout the day makes it easier to stay committed to an exercise program, experience the benefits, and achieve their health goals.
Increase Brain Health and Mood
- Shorter duration workouts save time, allow multiple forms of exercise into a single day, and improve neurological, physical, and psychological benefits.
- Performing an exercise as short as 3–5 minutes throughout the day can benefit the brain and mood.
Lower Blood Pressure
- A study compared the effects of short aerobic exercise sessions and continuous exercise on 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure.
- The study found that doing three 10-minute walks during the day morning, midday, and late afternoon lowered blood pressure more than doing one 30-minute walk in prehypertensive individuals.
Easier to Exercise
- Performing high-intensity workouts for a long time is not easy, even for seasoned athletes.
- This is why mini workout sessions appeal to fitness fans of all levels.
- Decreasing the time allows the individual to exercise at higher intensities.
Reduce the Stress of Working Out
- Incorporating shorter workouts can reduce the stress or fear that individuals have towards working out.
- When looking at fitness from this perspective, shortened workouts naturally become a part of the day that helps relieve stress.
Achieve Fitness Goals
- Shorter workouts allow individuals with busy schedules to focus on what they can perform in controlled sessions throughout the day without feeling overwhelmed by committing to an entire workout session.
- Mini workouts are easy to schedule, more sustainable to perform, and easier to commit to long-term.
- They allow for more focused and intensive exercise, especially when easily distracted.
Plan Ahead and Follow Through
The recommended way to accumulate a balance of strength, cardio, and mobility exercises throughout the day is to set up a plan. Find a routine that is enjoyable and not a chore, then set up the office space, work area, home to accommodate the exercises. For cardiovascular and strengthening benefits, an example of Tabata or HIIT workout.
- Five exercises.
- Two minutes on each exercise with a work-rest ratio of 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off.
- Depending on an individual’s fitness level, the work-rest ratio can be modified.
- To improve mobility and strength, use weights or resistance bands.
- Focus on proper form.
Try shorter workouts for a quick burst of exercise:
- Pick two to three exercises like bicep curls, shoulder presses, bodyweight squats, calf raises, lunges, or planks.
- Set a watch for 3 minutes.
- Perform 30 seconds of one exercise.
- Switch to another exercise for 30 seconds.
- Alternate until the 3 minutes are up.
Bodyweight Workout 1
- Ten bodyweight squats.
- Ten pushups.
- Twenty jumping jacks.
- Twenty-second plank.
- Ten glute bridges.
- Twenty seconds of rest.
- Repeat as many times as possible in 10 minutes.
Bodyweight Workout 2
- Thirty seconds of bodyweight squats.
- Thirty seconds of jumping jacks or high knees.
- Thirty-second plank.
- Thirty seconds of rest.
- Repeat 4–5 times.
- Child’s Pose – 2–3 repetitions, hold for 20–30 seconds.
- Chair Pose – 10 repetitions.
- Cat-Cow – 10 repetitions.
- Downward Dog – 8 repetitions.
- Repeat as many rounds as possible for 10 minutes.
How much physical activity do adults need? (2015, June 4) cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2014, October 10). Depression and anxiety: Exercise eases symptoms mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression-and-exercise/art-20046495
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2015, April 16). Exercise and stress: Get moving to manage stress mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/exercise-and-stress/art-20044469
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