When people are pushed for time they may feel like getting an effective workout is impossible. Research has shown many times that intense training for a shorter period of time is more beneficial than sweating for 60 minutes on a treadmill.
“This is due to what we call the ‘Afterburn Effect’ where the metabolism can be accelerated for 30-48 hours after the workouts,” Joshua Carter, a personal trainer and Fit Body Boot Camp owner with over 20 years of experience, says.
One minute of grueling exercise can be comparable in its physiological effects to 45 minutes of milder workout routine, according to a recent study. This is good news for people who have busy lives and chaotic schedules.
However, one of the best achievements when working out for 15 minutes a day a couple of time a week is starting a habit, Melanie Yoshida, ACE Certified Personal Trainer, says. “If someone commits to 15 minutes 3 to 4 times a week, maybe they could then commit to a daily 15-minute routine and then perhaps to 2 times a day 3-4 times a week, etc.” she adds.
Targeting as many muscles as possible is significantly better than working on one group, especially when you have such a short amount of time. “The body is not designed to use one muscle at a time,” C.J. Murphy, MFS, C-ISSN and owner of Total Performance Sports, a 2012 Best of Boston Winner for Best Gym, says.
Another secret to making a 15-minute workout a really effective one is focusing on mobility in the major joints and increasing the heart rate, Yoshida says.
Some moves and routines people can do when they feel tired and need a quick boost to exercise for a few minutes are deep breaths and big body stretches. “[They] will help wake you up,” she adds. “For example, squat down and reach up to the sky or lunge side to side with big arm sweeps. Make the movements slow and controlled and take 3 to 5 seconds to inhale/exhale.”
Working out for 15 minutes a few times a day should be the exception, not the rule. “But any movement is better than none,” Murphy says. If you stay on such routine, you won’t see results very fast and they will depend on your nutrition. “You need lots of protein and moderate amount of carbs,” he adds. “Calories control is more important than anything.” You need to burn more than you consume.