Can you really get fit in under one hour a week? Surely, everyone hopes the answer to that question is a resounding “yes”! But, since you know that achieving anything of value in life usually require some sort of effort, then it follows that you most likely can’t get fit in under an hour a week… or can you?
Well, when it comes to getting fit quickly, there’s good news, and there’s bad news. Let’s start with the good.
Yes, you can get fit with short workouts that add up to 60 minutes or less per week.
If you’re going to cut your workouts down to only 60 minutes a week or less, you’re going to have to put forth all-out effort during those short bursts of exercise. Some folks may not find that sort of exertion comfortable, and some people may not be able to operate at such a high intensity due to physical limitations.
With those caveats in mind, let’s examine the possibilities that arise when considering a weekly total workout time of 60 minutes or less.
Best Exercises For Your 60-Minute Workout
Walking is one of the best exercises you can do. You could get out and power walk for 15 – 20 minutes, three times a week. This activity alone will improve your level of fitness, especially if you’ve been fairly sedentary. Walking is easy on your joints and is an exercise most people can engage in—no matter what their current fitness level. The benefits of walking are vast and extend beyond the obvious cardiovascular benefits.
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Not only can you condition your cardiovascular system, but walking helps strengthen your muscles, improves your balance, builds bone density, alleviates depression, and if done outdoors (courtesy of sunlight), can even help increase levels of Vitamin D, a necessary nutrient.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends aerobic conditioning be done in blocks of at least ten minutes and resistance training type workouts be performed a minimum of twice per week. For even greater benefits from your walking routine, you can speed up your pace and ensure you include hills on your path.
High Intensity Interval Training
For a greater challenge, High Intensity Interval Training, also known as “HIIT,” is a very popular short exercise routine. This type of cardiovascular training is extremely effective at not only conditioning your heart and lungs for better aerobic capacity, but it’s also useful for burning extra calories (and thus helping burn body fat) and raising your metabolism long after your short-burst workout is completed.
Are you ready to try a HIIT workout? Try this:
Start with a 5-minute warmup with either a slow jog or a moderate walk. After your warmup, perform each exercise for as many repetitions as you can within a 30-second interval. Rest 30 seconds in between each set.
- Jumping Jacks—do as many as you can within a 15-second period.
- Step-Ups—you can step up onto a chair, bench, or step. Make sure it’s firmly placed on a steady surface. Once you have both feet on the “step,” slowly step back onto the ground, one foot at a time. Step both feet back up onto the chair, bench, or step, and repeat for a total of 15 seconds.
- Running in Place—the higher you can raise your knees as you run, the better. Continue for 15 seconds.
Repeat this sequence three times and remember to cool down after doing this workout for at least 5 minutes. Try a slow walk or some gentle stretching.
Practice Tabata Training
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommend working out in a minimum of ten-minute blocks. The Tabata workout fits nicely within these parameters. It is an abbreviated form of HIIT and was developed by Dr. Izumi Tabata and his team at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo. Originally designed to help develop endurance, it has become a popular workout for those short on time.
A Tabata workout consists of 8 quick sets, 20 seconds in duration, with a 10-second rest between each set.
Try this Tabata Workout: Warm up for five minutes by lightly jogging in place, doing two minutes of jumping jacks, or taking a brisk walk.
- Cycling Tabata Workout—You can use an indoor cycle at home or at the gym. Or, if you have a bicycle and plenty of space, feel free to use that as well. Pedal as fast as you can for 20 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds. After your 10-second rest, immediately go to the next 20-second round. Repeat 8 times for a complete Tabata workout.
The Bottom Line
While most sources agree you can engage in small daily amounts of exercise and still reap health benefits, across the board, they do recommend you expand that time frame to 30 minutes per day and include some form of resistance training as well, 2 – 3 times per week. Yes, you can get fit with just the minimum. Just remember, it will require more effort (a lot more) if you go all out for a shorter span of time.
The main point here, however, is to make sure that physical activity becomes, and remains, a part of your lifestyle. And, to reap the most benefits from your exercise routine, be sure to include both cardiovascular activities as well as a resistance training program and continue to push yourself with more challenging workouts as you improve your fitness levels. And, of course, some level of activity is better than nothing, so get started today!