I’ve been asked by my acupuncture patients about keeping fit and role of short workouts so many times, I’ve decided to write about it. You’ll be pleased to learn, a short exercise routine can produce health benefits similar to a long workout at a gym. Yes, just minutes of discomfort will develop appreciable health gains and endurance.
Research shows that it could be as little as 4 minutes. So far, this is the shortest proven workout regime I could find that will produce health benefits. And even if train for a marathon, you can benefit from a quick 4 minutes workout at home on days when you are too busy.
The 4 minutes workout
All right, I have to warn you – this is simpler than you thought it would be. You don’t need any special equipment or expensive gym memberships. You can do it in the privacy of your home, you can do this at work or at the beach, even at the airport while you wait for your connection.
All you have to do is set a timer and start exercising *as intensely as you can* for four minutes.
You can race up multiple flights of stairs, run uphill, do squats or bicycle or swim. The *intensity* is the key word here. As long as you do your best, you’ll get the maximum benefit. It may sound easy, but you may be very uncomfortable to start with.
The study looking into the four minutes workout used a target of 90 per cent of your maximal heart rate. I don’t recommend to start with this approach until you are a few weeks into training. You can calculate your maximal heart rate here. And if you want to, you can even get a heart rate monitor to help you with monitoring the intensity.
An even easier option – do it in 20-second bursts
Puffed just after just 2 minutes? I know that you will be thinking “it’s not for me, it’s too hard”. There is an easier option – Interval training. 4 minutes in short intervals: 20 seconds exercise, and you get to rest 10 seconds in between. Use this timer from your browser or get an iPhone/Android version. You can change exercises every with every break: 20 sec of jumps, break, 20 sec of squats, break, 20 sec of running uphill etc. With the timer, you will have to do this routine twice to keep your heart rate up for 4 minutes. This study shows that if you work out this way 3 times a week you can expect the noticeable results in only 10 weeks. My personal experience is that you can notice results a lot sooner.
What results can you expect?
You can expect significantly improved blood sugar control and blood pressure and a 10% increase on max oxygen intake and endurance.
Expecting weight loss? Combine this workout with a good diet and good sleeping habits. Unfortunately, you wouldn’t lose much weight with this workout alone.
The only “equipment” you’ll need – a good timer that does the job
Taking it to the next level
Would you like a short routine that involves most of your muscle groups? Consider the 7 minutes workout. Scientists at Norwegian University of Science and Technology created a pretty realistic 7-week fitness plan.
Other things to consider
If you have not been active for a long time or if you suffer from some health condition, it’s may be a good idea to consult your doctor before you attempt this.
Remember, if you have a desk job, this workout is not an antidote.