Feeling guilty about missing your regular exercise because you’re short on time? Can’t get to your regular class or sessions with all the extra demands? Relax! You can let go of guilt AND that long workout. Quick, effective workouts can potentially get you in better shape. In a recent round up of female fitness pros over 50, not one of them had an hour to exercise either. When the experts and fittest-of-fit don’t do it, why would you?
There’s plenty of proof that quick, effective workouts help balance hormones, stimulate productivity and creativity, and can even give you greater job satisfaction when you insert them into your workday.
How short can the workout be? Doing as few as six, one-minute intervals has been shown to influence positive choices at the next meal. Try these intervals:
- Climb flights of stairs in your building.
- Find a hill and power walk up.
- Kickboxing is an easier-on-the-joints exercise you can do anywhere. A seven minute workout, either rotating exercises every 30 seconds or minute can elevate your heart rate and boost metabolism. When you alternate upper body exercises and lower body exercises, you take advantage of something called peripheral heart action. Essentially, you expend more energy because your heart has to pump the blood upstairs, then downstairs, and so on.
Strength Training to Fatigue
Strength training to fatigue with heavy weights, or light with more repetitions for as little as 10 minutes can stimulate more fat burning and more lean muscle.
Here’s how to make sure you reach fatigue:
1. Choose three major muscle exercises (e.g., squat, lunge, chest press, row) Hint: lower body exercises provide the biggest boost in metabolism. Choose one or more lower body exercises along with the push and pull upper body exercises.
2. Choose the heaviest weight you can safely perform with good technique.
3. Perform these three exercises in rotation up to three times.*
4. Use power on the lift phase, moving as quickly as possible.
5. Lower slowly with control, using 2-4 seconds at least.
*If you are new to weight training, begin with one single set. Adapt for 1-2 weeks. Increase to two sets. Maintain for 2-3 weeks. Increase to three sets.
You may have seen the 7-minute workouts. Even quick, effective workouts as short as 4-minutes are circulating as the answer to your time obstacles. Are they hype or reality? As a prime woman, potentially with some stressors and maybe under hormone stress, going as hard as you need to in order to make those 4-minute intervals work is not in your favor. I must mention that with those extremely short workouts, rarely is there mention of warm up or cool down, which is crucial if you’re going to do something intensely enough to get results in 4-minutes. On occasion, moving more is enough. Instead of ditching the workout completely, making the flip to do the best you can on a busy day is enough. Give yourself credit for not sitting on the couch eating bon-bons.
Non-Exercise Activity Time
There’s a movement afoot to acknowledge the value of Non-Exercise Activity Time (NEAT). Dr. James Levine, a Mayo Clinic obesity expert, suggests simple daily activity has more to do with obesity than formal exercise. We’ve gotten it backwards. Focus on your movement all day for best weight management and your short bouts of exercise will be enough. In fact, they may be better all the time, not just during a busy season.
In alignment with Levine’s research, a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research revealed that among groups of women that exercised one, two, or three times a week, there was no significant difference initially in lean muscle or body composition. The two-time a week group, however, had the highest overall energy expenditure. Those subjects had more energy and strength, increasing their all day activity. Voluntarily, they walked the dog more, gardened, or did more housework. It was not the hour of exercise, nor was it the 10 minutes you might do. What mattered most was the energy it provided to be active all day.
Shoot for 20 minutes to allow for a warm up and cool down. Those five minutes on either end help you burn fat, feel better while you exercise, and begin to recover before you’re even finished. In the middle, you’ll get 10 quality minutes of weight training exercise or interval training. There may be days that your 20-minute yoga or stretch helps you burn the most fat! Crazy right?
It’s not a calorie burner. If it is a cortisol reducer, you’re on your way to less fat and more fun with quick, effective workouts.