Can 10 Minutes of Exercise Improve Your Health?
By Kara Wahlgren
No time? No problem. New research shows that exercising in 10-minute bursts can add up to big improvements in your health.
Is your hectic schedule keeping you from working out? It's time to cross that excuse off your list. According to a new study, you can reap the health benefits of exercise by doing three 10-minute mini-workouts throughout the day, rather than carving out one half-hour chunk.
Researchers at Arizona State University set out to show that "fractionized" workouts1—in other words, breaking up your workout into bite-size segments—could be as effective in controlling blood pressure as a full session. They enlisted a group of volunteers to complete 3 days of exercise. All were healthy, except for the fact that they showed early signs of high blood pressure. On one day, participants walked briskly for 10 minutes in the morning, afternoon, and evening. On another day, participants took a single 30-minute walk. On a third day, they didn't exercise at all.
It turns out that breaking up the workout into three segments was actually more effective than the single session in controlling blood pressure. "Blood pressure is lowered after a single exercise bout, and [the effect] can last several hours," explains Dr. Glenn Gaesser, the director of the Healthy Lifestyles Research Center at ASU who oversaw the study. He guessed—correctly—that exercising in shorter bursts throughout the day would spread out the benefits of this post-exercise hypotension.
Tony Horton CoachingShorter sessions can offer other cumulative benefits as well. "You'll raise your metabolic rate three times a day as opposed to one," says Stephanie Saunders, director of fitness and wellness at Team Beachbody® . "And it's fantastic for stress relief, not to mention much easier to fit into your schedule."
In fact, convenience might be one of the biggest benefits of shorter workouts. After all, who can't find 10 spare minutes in their schedule? That's why the Arizona State study focused on walking—Dr. Gaesser says that cycling, rowing, or resistance training for 10 minutes at a time would likely have a similar effect, but walking is particularly effective because it can be done anywhere and requires no special equipment.
Of course, short walks—no matter how brisk—probably won't get you ripped. But they can get you on the road to better health. "This type of exercise will not prepare you for athletic competition," Dr. Gaesser acknowledges. "It's more for health, and for overcoming the major barrier most people give for not exercising—a perceived lack of time."
Once you've made your mini-workouts a habit, you can step up your game and maximize your results by doing more intense bursts of exercise. That's the idea behind Team Beachbody's 10-Minute Trainer® , which consists of five 10-minute exercise programs: a total-body workout, a lower-body workout, an abs workout, a cardio workout, and a yoga workout. Mini-workouts can be stacked to create a full 30-minute workout, or they can be broken up into single sessions throughout the day.
Tony Horton TrainingThe 10-Minute Trainer workouts are also challenging enough to provide an alternative for P90X® or INSANITY® users who don't have time for a full workout one day. "10 minutes is better than no minutes," Saunders says. "You're not going to get 2% body fat in 10 minutes, but you're working your entire body and gaining flexibility and mobility."
So, if you're trying to maintain weight and improve your health, start incorporating 10-minute workouts into your schedule. But don't be afraid to step up your intensity or add on minutes once you're in the groove to see even more impressive results. "You should really be pushing yourself as hard as you can," Saunders says. "It's only 10 minutes—anyone can do anything for 10 minutes."