Ten-minute workouts lure time-challenged exercisers
Atmosphere at SELF Magazine's Workout In The Park at Rumsey Playfield, Central Park (Andy Kropa, Getty Images)
Experts say what these short bursts of activity, sometimes called exercise snacking, lack in duration they can make up for in intensity.
"You can get a good enough workout that can make real metabolic changes to your body," said Liz Neporent, co-author of "The Thin in 10 Weight-Loss Plan" along with fitness instructor Jessica Smith.
"It can help you lose weight, reduce stress and basically give you all the benefits that we know come from exercise."
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that most adults to engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week.
But multiple shorter sessions of at least 10 minutes are acceptable and even people unable to meet the minimums still benefit from some activity, according to ACSM.
Neporent, who writes on health and fitness, said mainstream science is finding that if you increase intensity you can decrease time.
That approach can work for a lot of people, she said, because poll after poll has shown that the Number One objection to not getting a workout in is time.
"The typical recommendation is to do 30 minutes, so if we told you that you could do 10 minutes at a time, you might actually have a better shot at getting it done," she said.
To make the most of 10 minutes, Neporent and Smith favor a hybrid of cardio and strength exercises.
"You want to get in something that's heart-healthy, and something that's good for your muscles and bones," Neporent said. "A lot of our workouts (in the book) tend to be circuit-weighted to maximize time."
They also promote the 10-minute walk; the meal plan section extends the theme with recipes that take 10 minutes or less to prepare.
Amy Dixon, creator of the "Give Me 10" DVD series of 10-minute workouts, said studies show shorter, but more consistent, workouts can yield dramatic results.
"If I had 10 minutes I would do fairly intense strength training, total body workouts with dumbbells or kettle bells interspersed with cardio intervals like jumping jacks," said Dixon, who is Group Fitness Manager at an Equinox fitness center in Santa Monica, California.
She's seen too many people spend 60 minutes just going through the motions of a cardiovascular workout.
"If you're reading a magazine," she said, "you're not working out."
Dr. Carl Foster, a professor in the exercise and sports science department at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, said there are unique advantages to high-intensity training for the young and the fit.
"There are things you gain that you can't get from low-intensity workouts because you're using muscle fibers that are sedentary in a walk," he said.