For many people, the main constraint that keeps them from exercising is time. After all, in this day and age, who has the time to drop everything for an hour and go work out? In such a busy world, most peoples’ schedules are packed as it is, and there just aren’t enough hours in the day to throw an exercise regimen in the mix.
However, finding an entire hour may not be necessary, or even the best idea for that matter. Contrary to popular belief, it’s possible that a high quantity of short, intense bursts of activity may be one of the most effective calorie burning workouts. Not only does this make it possible to fit time for exercise in, but creates the opportunity for an even more profound effect on one’s health.
More for Less
While most would think of a short workout as around ten minutes or so, it’s possible that if done frequently enough, the same effect could be achieved in short bursts, less than a minute each. A recent study even suggests that this number could be as low as four seconds! In the experiment, eleven subjects were told to exercise in four second intervals of power cycling.
These intervals were repeated roughly thirty times with brief rests in between each, resulting in around 2 total minutes of exercise. This process was then repeated three times a week for eight weeks.The end result? Overall, the subjects found themselves in better shape, increasing in both strength and blood flow. While this is still a new study, it shows promise, suggesting that high intensity interval training workouts could possibly replace the typical exercise routine.
One of the near-universal experiences in fitness is beginning a new exercise routine and starting off strong, but quickly losing steam when the reality of commitment kicks in. Often, one of the most difficult parts of consistent exercise is the mental hurdle it creates. An entire hour of exercise can seem insurmountable, especially to a beginner, so it’s best to start small.
Even if it’s not as brief as the experiment’s four-second interval, a quick ten minute workout three times a day is less daunting than one hour straight. Even on a rough day, keeping up with shorter bursts of activity is doable. This can help maintain a streak of exercise, helping to avoid missing a day’s activity and losing motivation.
Going hand-in-hand with the ease of committing to a shorter regimen is the ability to change said regimen as needed. For example, if someone is going with a single extensive workout, running out of time means they’ve missed an entire day of physical activity. However, with three ten-minute workouts, missing one isn’t the end of the world.
It’s much easier to just move a session to a different time of day, and even if they were to skip one session entirely, there would still be two left. Often, longer sessions lead to an all-or-nothing mindset, which can be harmful to motivation. In the end, something is better than nothing, a mentality that shorter workouts help to promote.
Quality and Quantity
One of the biggest issues with a longer workout is exhaustion and its effect on the workout’s quality. Once said exhaustion begins to set in, most people unconsciously begin to lose their good form, which makes the exercise less effective and increases the chance of injury.
On the other hand, short bursts of activity are certainly still enough to cause an increase in heart and breathing rates. Not to mention, many people will find themselves with more energy than usual, maintained by both getting in plenty of physical activity while avoiding an excessive amount.
To put it simply, splitting a day’s exercise into several brief sessions still gets the blood pumping, but also prevents exhaustion, making each rep just as effective as the last.
Though there are plenty of people who swear by the typical long workout session, it’s by no means the only option. Fitness regimens are by no means one size fits all. Everyone has their own unique needs and restrictions, and their fitness habits need to be adjusted to match. Shorter workouts provide more wiggle room for scheduling, are easier to stick with, and ultimately have just as much of a benefit to one’s health.
If you’ve been feeling demotivated, it may be time to move towards shorter workout sessions. In the end, you may even find yourself exercising more often than if you had kept on with the more typical single workout. So, if you’re one of the many people looking to get back in shape, give your regimen a look. Chances are, a few key changes are all you need to find your perfect workout routine.