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Get all the exercise you need in only 7 minutes per day

Teresa Tanoos's picture
Research shows 7 minute workout is all you need

It sounds too good to be true, but you really can get a maximum workout for only 7-minutes per day, according to new research published in the May/June issue of the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal.

Although many believe they need an hour-long workout to get into and maintain optimal physical shape, there is an ever-growing amount of evidence to support that just 7-minutes each day may be all you need. But that doesn't mean just any kind of exercise, so don't think taking a brisk walk for a few minutes will do the trick. This 7-minute workout is tough, but it works, based on scientific research that involves “high-intensity circuit training”.

“There’s very good evidence” that high-intensity circuit training provides “many of the fitness benefits of prolonged endurance training but in much less time,” says Chris Jordan, the director of exercise physiology at the Human Performance Institute in Orlando, Fla., and co-author of the new research.

If staying in shape is important to you, but you don't have much time to spare, this 7-minute “high-intensity circuit training” (also known as HICT) may be what you're looking for. HICT consists of 12 exercises deploying only body weight and a chair and wall. Yet it meets all the current mandates to qualify as a bona-fide high-intensity workout. Put simply, HICT squeezes into 7 minutes the same health benefits you would otherwise obtain from a long run combined with lifting weights in a gym.

Just be prepared to endure a lot of discomfort during those 7-minutes – unless, of course, you’re a professional athlete in tip-top shape – and, even then, researchers report a discomfort level hovering around 8 on a scale of 1 to 10 due to the intensity of the HICT workout.

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Still, you can try psyching yourself up for the discomfort. Just remind yourself about the scientific research showing that even a few minutes of training at an intensity, which approaches your maximum capacity, produces molecular changes within muscles that are comparable to several hours of running or bike riding.

It also helps knowing that the extremely intense activity must be intermingled with brief periods of recovery, not to mention that it can be a fast and efficient way to lose excess body weight and fat.

According to the research, the resistance training incorporated into the workout contributes significantly to the amount of fat burned during a workout – and when resistance training uses multiple large muscles with very little rest between sets, it results in aerobic and metabolic benefits, which can last up to 72 hours after the workout is completed.

In the 12 exercises outlined by Chris Jordan and his team, each should be performed for 30 seconds in rapid succession, while maintaining intensity at a discomfort level of around 8 on a discomfort scale of 1 to 10. Put simply, those 7 minutes should not be fun. But consider the benefits, not to mention all the time you’ll save by working out for only a few minutes.

Click here for the link to the research article, and to see the 12 specific exercises that comprise this 7 minute workout by Chris Jordan and colleagues.

SOURCE: ACSM'S Health & Fitness Journal. 17(3):3, May/June 2013.
doi: 10.1249/FIT.0b013e31828cb21c