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Shorter workouts have taken over the at-home exercise space with everything from online yoga to Pilates to cardio classes being pared down to shorter increments. For many, this switch-up has been welcomed with open arms, making it even easier to get a workout into a jam-packed day. But, time isn’t the only reason why this workout trend has grown in popularity — it’s the efficacy of a shorter workout that makes it even more appealing.
Gone are the days when exercise was all about committing to an hour (or more!) at the gym or nothing at all. Today, the fitness mantra is all about doing what you have time for, as a little can go a long way — and some movement is always better than none. “A shorter workout generally means something under the 30-minute mark, but may also include ‘mini’ or ‘micro’ workouts that are usually under the 15-minute time span,” says Larissa Nicole, CPT, RHN, and founder of Larissa Nicole Fitness.
Up ahead, we explore why shorter workouts are so beneficial, plus how they can bring about balance to any exercise routine.
The Benefits of a Shorter Workout
Shorter workouts can be “extremely effective,” says Nicole. This is especially true for “busy people who don’t have the time to devote to longer training sessions,” she notes, adding how this trend has made exercise more accessible for busy moms, shift workers, students, and people juggling multiple jobs.
“Most people have this misconception that they need to work out for around an hour in a gym to maximize the benefits of their training session, but that’s not true,” Nicole explains. “Even shorter workouts — ones that are 30-minutes or less and can be done from the comfort of your home — can be largely impactful for your overall health,” she adds.
And, the best part is: You can recalibrate your workout routine to only include these shorter workouts as they are still highly effective. Nicole says this is especially true “if that’s all the time you can afford to spend” as you’ll be “more likely to stick to your shorter-workout routine than trying to devote more time to a training session that doesn’t suit your lifestyle or schedule.”
When it comes to the benefits of a shorter workout, Nicole says it’s all about consistency. “What really makes workout out so effective isn’t the workout itself but your ability to maintain consistency with your routine over time.” And, workouts that are under 30-minutes are much easier to be consistent with compared to a daunting hour-long training session.
How to Balance Your Exercise Routine
Balancing your exercise routine is all about evaluating where you’re currently at and finding ways to make your workout goals more attainable. And, if you want to accomplish this with shorter workouts, Nicole says the first thing to do is to “establish exactly how much time you can realistically afford to spend workout out each day or week.” This could mean you have 10 minutes to spare each day, or 30-minutes three times per week. “Decide exactly what you’re willing to commit and physically pencil it into your calendar,” Nicole advises.
Once you’ve got your time and frequency sorted out, you want to think about the types of exercise you’ll do. “It’s important to prioritize training all muscle groups at least twice by the end of your week,” says Nicole, adding that research shows that higher training frequency is more beneficial for strength training than the actual amount of time spent working out.
Altogether, your workout schedule might look like 15-minutes each day, or three 10-minute workouts and two 45-minute workouts. The balance isn’t in the amount of time spent working out, it’s in finding the realistic time in your schedule.
By incorporating shorter workouts into your exercise routine — or committing to daily micro-workouts — you can not only reach your movement goals but also balance your recovery. “Since overtraining can prevent the body from recovering fully, these shorter workouts can reinforce movement patterns without overloading the muscles,” says Nicole, adding that this could also improve overall performance, too.
*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health programs.