How to get your exercise in, 10 minutes at a time.
10-minute abs, 9-minute thighs, 8-minute buns... Every year there's a new workout program that promises to tone you up faster than ever. The odd thing is, every year as these new programs multiply, Americans keep getting fatter.
Can 10 minute or "micro-workouts" actually help you get in shape or are they just a bunch of marketing hype? Well, first let's look at what the Federal Government concluded.
In January of 2005, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a report called Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In that report, it said, "To help manage body weight and prevent gradual, unhealthy body weight gain in adulthood: Engage in approximately 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intensity activity on most days of the week while not exceeding caloric intake requirements."
Researchers found that Americans weren't exercising nearly enough and the previous guidelines weren't sufficient. Nothing less than an hour a day is the current government suggestion. Of course, there's a wide gap between a 10-minute workout and the federal government's recommendation of 60 minutes. So on its face, it would seem micro-workouts wouldn't be that effective.
Not so fast. The secret is doing more than one micro-workout a day. Studies show that breaking workouts into 10-minute sessions several times a day can be just as effective as a continuous workout. Because time is one of the main excuses people use to avoid exercise, micro-workouts make sense. 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there, and the next thing you know, you've got all your exercise in for the day. Here's how to integrate several of those short workouts into your everyday activities.
Morning cardio starts with a newspaper. Before you pick it up, put on some clothes and walk or jog around the block for 10 minutes. As you get in better shape, try jogging for 4 minutes, running for 1, jogging another 4 and running for 1. It'll wake you up and burn over 100 calories. Don't want to face the neighbors that early in your day? Then jump rope or do jumping jacks in your living room for 10 minutes.
During the Day
Look for exercise opportunities everywhere throughout the day. If you have an appointment with someone, don't sit around and wait till they're ready. Find out how long it'll be and use that downtime for a brisk walk around the neighborhood. When you answer your phone, stand up and do calf stretches. During a break, find a set of stairs and walk up and down them for a few minutes. Just five minutes on the stairs can burn 50 calories.
Mealtimes provide more great excuses to exercise. When you start cooking your food, do situps or push-ups while you're waiting for things to heat up. In the evening, after dinner, go for a walk. It accelerates your body's fat burning. If you have kids, help them develop some healthy habits. Take them outside and play for a while. Teach them to associate food with exercise early on.
Don't get sucked into the TV. Take a radical step and remove the batteries from your remote. When you have to change channels, get up and do it the old fashioned way. Every time a commercial comes on, stand up and start moving. Jog in place or put on some music and dance until your program is back on.
Limit the time you spend playing on the computer or video games. Even better, ration the time out based on how much exercise you do. For every 10 minutes of exercise, allow yourself 20 minutes of screen time. If you've got time to play, you've got time to work on your body.
You don't have to spend 60 minutes in one stretch exercising; you can spread it around over your entire day. Go ahead and give those 10-minute workouts a try; just make sure you do more than once a day.
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