Quality Over Quantity: Short Workouts

We get it: we live hectic, jam-packed lives and often exercise is the first casualty on our long to-do list. But that nagging question always pops-up (especially when the buttons are about to pop-out of our shirt) ‘how can I get into regular exercise?’

The short answer: a shorter workout.

Now don’t get us wrong, if you have the time to devote to an extended exercise routine, always choose long over short. For most, however, that may not be the case. If your schedule only affords shorter daily workouts, then here are some tips to make that time count:

Short bursts of the burn:

Interval training, or alternating between short bursts of intense exercise and brief periods of rest or less intense activity, could be a good option for the time-poor. It’s useful for building cardiovascular and endurance fitness while also helping reduce the risk of type two diabetes.

The key to interval training is to understand what an intense workout is for you. As everyone’s body is different, one guide is to do something that feels hard to you. And you’ve got plenty of options for activities:

  • Do jumping jacks, lunges or crunches and alternate with rests for about 15 minutes (you can even do this while watching TV!)

  • Swim one lap as fast as you can then rest and repeat.

  • Do short, intense bouts of football, boxing or dance drills.

  • Walk as fast as you can then slow down (or set the interval training function on your treadmill).

  • Alternate running fast and hard and running at normal pace for five to 10 minutes (depending on your ability).


"If your schedule only affords shorter daily workouts, then make that time count"

Got the picture? To fully benefit from these shorter workouts, aim to do them for at least 10 minutes at a time with the goal of reaching 150 minutes per week.

Get your heart racing:

Another way to make your short workout count is by reaching your aerobic or maximum heart rate. To find out what it is for you, subtract your age from 220 (for example, if you’re 40, then your maximum heart rate is 180). You’ll improve your fitness if you train at 60-80 percent of your maximum heart rate (again, be mindful of your fitness level).  

Incorporate a variety of exercises:

Variety will make your short workouts interesting. The experts believe this will keep you committed to doing more of your short workouts. After all, if you’ll be pushing yourself to complete intense bouts of something, you wouldn’t want it to be monotonous. So, include some training for strength and balance on top of aerobic activities.

As with anything to do with your health and physical fitness, it’s best to seek professional advice before trying anything new. How much exercise you should do will depend on your fitness and your health goals.

But be warned, ‘no time’ is no longer an excuse for no exercise. And there is no time like the present, so start today and get moving.