If you’re like many, you’ve struggled to stick with exercise plans in the past. You’re busy, life is crazy, and it’s hard to find an hour or so a day to exercise. Maybe you’re tired of starting exercise plans that you can’t follow through with. You start…but you can’t seem to stick with it, and then you feel like a failure.
What if we told you that the problem isn't YOU? What if we told you the problem is the outdated belief that workouts have to be long, brutal, and sweaty in order to be worthwhile? Or that the problem is trying to fit yourself into a model of exercise that just doesn’t work for you and your needs? Well, we're here to tell you that you, in fact, are NOT the problem! There IS a better way.
You’ve likely heard about HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, and there’s a reason you've heard about it: it really works! HIIT is a training technique in which you give all-out, one hundred percent effort through quick, intense bursts of exercise, followed by short, sometimes active, recovery periods. This type of training gets and keeps your heart rate up and burns more fat in less time.
Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to go slog it out at the gym for 30 or 45 minutes to get the results you are looking for. In fact, working out for just 15-20 minutes (yes, 15!) comes with an abundance of health benefits, from upping your calorie burn and whipping your body into shape, to lowering your risk of certain diseases and even adding years on to your life. That's right, these quick sweat sessions are no joke. Need more convincing? Here are several more reasons to start carving out 15 minutes of your day:
1. QUICK RESULTS
Researchers recently found that a 10-minute workout, with just one minute at high-intensity, had the same benefits as 45 minutes of jogging. One group of study participants did a two-minute warm-up on a stationary bike, followed by a 20-second sprint, then rode slowly for two minutes. They repeated that sequence two more times for a total of 10 minutes. Another group just rode steadily on the bike for 45 minutes. After 12 weeks, both groups showed a 20 percent increase in cardiovascular endurance.
2. BURN MORE CALORIES
HIIT workouts, which usually lasts just four to 15 minutes, can also give you more "bang for your buck" in terms of calorie burn. In a study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, those who did 13 minutes of HIIT burned more calories per minute and increased their VO2 max by 12.5 percent more than those who did steady-state cardio for 40 minutes. More payoff in half the time? Sign me up!
3. LIVE LONGER
Just 15 minutes of exercise per day could actually increase your lifespan. Scientists actually studied participants over a 12-year period and found that those who exercised at a low level (or the equivalent of a 15-minute brisk walk) were 22 percent less likely to die during the study period than those who didn’t exercise at all. In addition, participants who exercised at medium and high levels reduced their risk of death by 28 percent and 35 percent, respectively.
4. MANAGE WEIGHT
The calorie-burning benefits of even the shortest strength-training bout keep coming long after you've left the gym. In one study, researchers found that when volunteers did just one set of nine exercises, or about 11 minutes of strength training, three days a week, they increased their resting metabolic rate (the calories burned when just hanging out) and fat burning enough to keep unwanted weight at bay.
5. STAY YOUNG
HIIT can have a profound effect on aging at the cellular level. The older you get, the less efficient your energy-producing mitochondria become. In fact, when three groups of exercisers were analyzed over 12 weeks—one that did high-intensity aerobic interval training, one that did resistance training, and one that did a combination of the two—they found that those who did HIIT actually reversed that age-related degeneration. Translation: Their mitochondria actually worked like those of much younger people.
6. BOOST BRAIN POWER
You know working out is good for your body, but you probably don’t think too much about how good it is for your brain, too. Actually, just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your brainpower for a short time afterward, according to a recent study published in the journal Neuropsychologia. The researchers found that study participants who rode a stationary bike at a moderate to vigorous pace for 10 minutes answered questions 50 milliseconds faster after exercising than they did before, a 14 percent increase in cognitive performance.
Need a brain boost stat? Try this 15-minute workout for stronger abs.
7. LOWER YOUR RISK OF CERTAIN DISEASES
Obviously, all exercise has health benefits. But according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, participating in 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week can decrease your risk of getting cancer or cardiovascular disease. That’s just 12.5 minutes a day.
8. DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY
Everyone knows about exercise and endorphins. But science actually says that just one hour of exercise per week (that’s less than 10 minutes a day) could prevent up to 12 percent of depression cases. One study published in American Journal of Psychiatry followed more than 22,000 healthy adults who did not have symptoms of anxiety or depression for about 11 years. In the end, researchers found the people who reported not exercising at the beginning of the study were 44 percent more likely to become depressed versus those who spent one to two hours working out each week.
So there it is - no more excuses! 15 minutes a day is definitely achievable and, if you combine with a healthy eating plan, you'll be knocking your healthy and weight loss goals out of the park in no time at all!