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Work out anytime in 10 minutes or less

Fit exercise into your busy day

Lack of time is the number one reason more people don’t exercise. That’s one reason health experts are recommending shorter bursts of activity, 10 minutes or less, throughout the day. 

“Shorter workouts are less time-consuming, so they are more sustainable,” says Kristen Nations, senior program manager for the Well for Life Center at Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

Is a short workout worth it?

“Accumulated exercise over the course of the day can be as effective as a continuous session,” according to Nations. “When we sit less and do any amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, we gain some health benefits.”

A recent study, published in the journal of Sports Medicine, found that even small amounts of activity — a minute or two of light walking every 20 minutes — helps the body balance blood sugar levels External Site. This is good for the body, as large spikes and fast falls in blood sugar raise the risk for diabetes and heart disease.

Exercise also increases your brain power, helps you de-stress, strengthens your bones and muscles, helps manage weight, reduces the risk of disease and improves your ability to do everyday activities.

Need a little workout motivation?

New apparel, footwear or workout gear may help you get more movement in your day. All Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield members have access to the deals and discounts available through Blue365®. With Blue365, you’ll find dozens of offers on fitness products, as well as other healthy living items and services.

Build “movement breaks” into your day to work out anytime

So, how to do it? “Ideally, you’d fit in several bursts of activity throughout the day,” says Nations.

There are some caveats. “Ten minutes of activity doesn’t mean you spend the remainder of your day sitting at your desk. The more you offset the effects of sitting, the better,” adds Nations.

“Movement breaks” can help you be more productive, too. Research shows that taking regular breaks can dramatically improve your ability to focus on a task for prolonged periods.

She also suggests scheduling breaks with a co-worker or friend for accountability. “Instead of meeting up for coffee, take a brisk walk together. You can also set a step goal for yourself, or set a reminder to move throughout the day.

“If you’re not able to take breaks, then at least use restroom breaks to stretch or drink some water—just move around for a bit,” says Nations.

Will 10 minutes of exercise a day get you results?

Whether or not you get results from shorter workouts really depends on where you’re starting from, says Nations. If you are a sedentary person, it could yield dramatic results. She recommends working your way up to 10-minute activities every few hours.  

“As far as strength training goes, 10 minutes per day is enough to build a solid foundation, if you’re consistent,” says Nations. She adds, “If you want to increase your capacity and get more dramatic results, add a high-intensity interval workout (HIIT) two times per week. HIIT workouts require more effort through quick, intense bursts of exercise. You’ll likely be sore, so you’ll want to plan for active recovery, such as stretching or frequent walking breaks, throughout the day.”

How much activity is recommended?

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, healthy adults should aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise (or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic exercise) each week, along with strength training twice a week.

movement breaks example

Nations provides the reminder that this 150 minutes of moderate exercise doesn't have to happen in big chunks. Instead, she suggests using a morning and an afternoon break to walk for 10 minutes. Climb some stairs or walk briskly, to get your heart rate up a bit. If you can, use the lunch hour to do 10 minutes of strength training exercises. Then take another brisk 10-minute walk after dinner.

“The key is to find what works for you,” she adds. “With minimal effort, you can work your way up to 30–40 minutes of daily activity.”

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