Friday, September 13, 2013

In Defense of the 10 (or Eight or Five or Two)-Minute Workout

Websites and magazines that deal with health frequently admonish their readers that they need to exercise a certain amount every day.  Depending on what study came out most recently, they will pronounce any amount of cardio under 30, or 40, or 60 minutes to be "not enough to do any good."

What they really mean is: "not enough to help you lose weight."  And they're probably right.  But that doesn't mean that a short workout isn't worth your time.  There's more to health than weight.

I'm speaking from personal experience here (hey, it's a blog!), but a short workout, even one that is nothing but a warm up and some stretches, is a good habit to get into.  Here are four reasons why:

1.  I am moving.  This means increased blood flow to the brain, adrenaline and other endorphins in my system, and a faster heart rate.  So what if it doesn't last very long?  It still wakes me up, and boosts my energy level for the day.

2.  I am much more mentally alert after exercising.  I can't tell you whether 10 jumping jacks is as good as a cup of coffee because I've never had a cup of coffee, but I can tell you that exercise is a good pick-me-up.

3.  It's a kind of bookmark in my day that says: "exercise goes here."  I can make that span of time gradually or occasionally longer.  That is easier to do when one is in the habit of exercising.  I don't know about you, but I'm not going to go from doing nothing one morning to doing half an hour the next.

4.  A short workout, done regularly, helps me maintain my weight.  This is preferable to gaining unwanted pounds!  I think part of the reason for this isn't so much that I'm burning calories, but that I am in a better mood and can more easily resist the siren call of sweets.

So don't beat yourself up if your exercise time is roughly the length of a commercial break.  It really is better than nothing if you consider your overall health to be more than weight loss.

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