How much do you need to practice?

For many people, lack of time is the main obstacle to playing sports. But experts say that it is not necessary to do all the exercises.

Even short exercise can have a positive effect on health.

Colet Bouchez

Review by Brunilde Nazario, MD.

You say you don't have time to exercise? Everyone says so. For many people, lack of time is the main obstacle to playing sports. But experts say that it is not necessary to do all the exercises. You can practice for 10 minutes, but several times a day. It's not that difficult, is it?

It has been proven that short but frequent exercises can bring significant results. Consider:

A study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine shows that short afternoon walks are more effective than strenuous workouts in reducing weight and triglyceride levels.

According to a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Public Health, short exercise lowers blood pressure and also helps to get rid of extra inches on the hips and waist.

A study published in the journal Preventive Medicine shows how a series of 6-minute exercises several times a day can help sedentary people achieve the same results as a 30-minute exercise routine.

In a study published in the journal Pharmacopsychiatry, doctors found that short but frequent exercise can reduce the need for cigarettes and help quit smoking.

"It's not about losing weight drastically, it's about keeping fit or staying healthy," says personal trainer Susie Sheena, author of The Sixty Second Move. “And about keeping fit, for which 4-5 minutes of exercise is enough.”

The most remarkable thing about this is that everyone can find 5 free minutes several times a day, says Sheena, owner of a mobile personal training center, Fitness 180.

“Some these exercises can be done at work during a five-minute break, at the table, standing in line at the store, even while driving,” says Sheena. "It's not that hard, but the results can be amazing."

Instructor Jim Massaro also agrees. “This is the method that I myself follow and teach others,” he says. “It is suitable for both beginners and professionals. “

But experts warn that there is a downside to short exercises.

“Short exercises make it possible to mistakenly believe that you can save time. It doesn't seem like it takes much to be healthy. But it’s not,” says Mike Ryan, individual trainer and member of the Gold’s Gym sports club network.

Speaking of short sessions, Ryan means that this is a good way to set yourself up for training, but in order to achieve a certain goal, you need to gradually move to longer sessions. “Whatever the benefits of short sessions, the most significant results can only be achieved through long-term loads.”

Exercise: what should be the minimum?

The more physical activity, the better the result. For most of us, getting off the couch is the first step to health.

And yet, how much do you need to practice? Five minutes of exercise repeated throughout the day is the minimum, but experts say that 10-minute sets of exercises give more results.

It is very important to use the allocated number of minutes as efficiently as possible: “Whether it is 2 minutes, 5 or 10, you need to spend them as efficiently as possible,” says Sheena, “There must be a certain load on the body, even if it lasts 5 minutes. »

And how often should the 5-10 minute exercises be repeated?

According to the statistics of the American College of Cardiology and the American College of Sports Medicine, you need to exercise for 30 minutes a day, 3-5 times a week. So you need to practice 6 times a day for 5 minutes or 3 times for 10 minutes.

What kind of exercise is best?

Experts report that almost all exercises that you like are suitable. If you want to get the most out of your 10 minute workout, choose a load that engages different muscle groups.

Shina's clients' favorite exercise is: stand up straight, straighten your shoulders, pull in your stomach, raise your chin. The difficulty is to fix this pose for 5 minutes.

Sheena says that exercise can include functional movements such as sitting down and getting up from a chair, bending over and picking things up from the floor, or putting something high on a shelf, picking it up and putting it down again, and so on for five minutes. (For example, clean the pantry every day for 5 minutes!)

“You can allocate 60 seconds for each movement. I call it the "sixty second move" and it works great because you do one move for a full minute."

Do not mix different exercises. It's best to take turns doing the exercises, Massaro suggests. “When the body is used to doing something, there will be no noticeable results. So you need to increase the time or intensity or change exercises from time to time,” he says.

Among the exercises that Massaro likes are the "string" (physical exercise, jumping in place with a change in the position of the arms and legs), jumping from the "crouching" position and walking with a twist of the torso. “To improve charging efficiency, try walking in a zigzag path. Or even backwards. It looks weird, but very effective,” he says.

If you are going to exercise, try to make it as intense as possible. It's good for the heart. While walking, just pick up the pace. When doing inclines, increase the frequency of movements in order to do more repetitions in the same time.


It seems that motivation is not needed for short loads, but experts believe that this is not the case. Short exercises get bored faster and you don’t feel guilty about it.

“If you miss an hour of classes with a personal instructor or an hour of classes in the gym, then there is a feeling of guilt, which motivates you not to miss classes. If you missed a 5-minute lesson, it seems that it is not scary. But over time, motivation disappears and classes stop completely.

To keep you motivated, Massaro advises, focus on your primary goal: how good you will feel and how much healthier you will become if you keep working hard.

“Don't think about what you have to do, think about what you will get if you do it. Namely, you will feel better, look better, be healthier,” he says.

If you are still not motivated, involve a friend in the exercises and have small competitions, Sheena suggests, “First, each of you should buy a greeting card from the store. After that, everyone should make a list of exercises, indicate how often they do the exercise and its duration. And check the results at the end of each week. Whoever did more exercises gets both postcards.” In addition, you can arrange competitions for yourself.