Is a ten minute workout enough to help you get fit and stay healthy? The internet is awash with “get fit quick” workouts, promising me a bikini body in less time than it takes to drink my morning coffee. As a self-professed gym-phobic, you can imagine my joy at the thought of only needing ten minutes a day to reach my weight loss goals! Inspired, I embarked upon my new minutes-a-day regimen, and waited for the pounds to melt away.
SPOILER ALERT: They didn’t.
Is a Ten Minute Workout Enough for You?
Well, that depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. A little bit of exercise is, of course, better than nothing. This is not a new theory, by the way. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association back in 2007 showed that 72 minutes of moderate exercise per week (so, on average, a ten minute workout a day) was enough to improve peak oxygen consumption (a measure of cardiovascular fitness) by 4.2 percent.
According to Dr. Timothy Church, director of the Laboratory of Preventive Medicine Research at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University, the results were surprising, showing that “as little as ten to fifteen minutes of exercise a day could provide benefits in terms of fitness.”
A Little is Good. More is Better
In Dr. Church’s study, 464 women were placed in four groups:
- a control group (members remained sedentary)
- a “light” exercise group (members exercised for seventy-two minutes a week)
- a “moderate” exercise group (members exercised for 136 minutes a week)
- a “high” exercise group (members exercised for 192 minutes a week)
While the control group showed no improvement in peak oxygen consumption, the three exercise groups all showed improvement, at a rate of 4.2%, 6% and 8.2% respectively.
So, if you’re trying to improve your cardiovascular health, then your ten minutes of moderate exercise (like walking, or yoga) is enough to help. Want to get even healthier? Exercise a bit longer, or more often, or both. But if you’re trying to lose weight, you’ll also need to take a look at what’s going on in the kitchen.
Calories In Versus Calories Out
Scientifically speaking, weight loss is a function of burning more calories than you consume. There are two ways to achieve this – by consuming fewer calories, or by burning more. It’s basic math (so, by its very nature, simple but not necessarily easy).
For some, the idea of restricting food intake is akin to the suggestion that they gnaw off a limb. But beware that the ten minute workout will likely not be enough to offset any poor eating habits. And considering the fact that a twenty minute walk burns fewer than a hundred calories, if your preferred method of maintaining a caloric deficit is through exercise alone, you’re going to have to do quite a bit of it.
But what if lengthy or intense workouts just don’t work for you? Or you have joint or mobility issues that make it impossible to exercise at a level that would allow you to lose weight? Not to worry, according to Charlotte Markey, a diet and behaviour expert at Rutgers University (and author of Smart People Don’t Diet). Weight loss is more likely to be a result of what you eat, not how long you exercise.
According to Markey, “Exercise increases appetite, and most people just make up for whatever they exercised off. There’s a lot of wonderful reasons to exercise and I always suggest it to people who are trying to lose weight—some sort of exercise regimen keeps them focused on their health and doing what is good for them, and it’s psychologically healthy. But in and of itself it won’t usually help people lose weight.”
A healthy lifestyle is not about depriving yourself of things that you love. It’s about changing one habit at a time until your daily routine matches your goals.
So, what will help people lose weight?
If intense exercise just isn’t your cup of tea, then work on getting at least ten minutes a day of moderate exercise (of course thirty minutes is better), and follow these guidelines:
- Stay within your ideal caloric intake (i.e. eat according to your goals).
- Eat reasonable portion sizes (of what, you ask? See #3)
- Fill up on nutrition-dense foods (think fewer calories but more nutrients, like fruits, vegetables, lean protein sources and whole grains)
- Instead of “dieting”, work on creating a healthy lifestyle, one habit at a time
- Indulge once in a while. A weekly treat meal won’t derail your weight loss plans – just account for the calories, enjoy the treat and move on!
Sometimes the hardest part of getting healthy is getting started. I believe that begins with a healthy grocery list. I’ve put one together and added it to my free resource library.
You can download your own copy of my easy-peasy grocery list and other great freebies in the resource library!
Just fill in the form below and I’ll email you a link to our Resource Library. We add a new free resource every week or so, and you get free lifetime access!
Want more of the healthy horsey life?
Subscribe to Well With Horses to get my monthly newsletter (with behind the scenes stories and adorable pics of Stella, Sunny & Q) plus instant access to my Free Resource Library!