How Short Bursts of Exercise Can Benefit Your Health

by Kevin Gray

According to the latest Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans — a report published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — adults should aim for 150 minutes of exercise each week. Ideally, this exercise is spread throughout the week and consists of both cardio and strength training. Thirty-minute workouts performed five days per week are a great way to reach 150 total minutes, but that’s not the only way to get the job done.

Research has shown shorter periods of activity (often dubbed “exercise snacks”) can be combined throughout the day to meet the recommended total. In some cases, doing a few quick workouts controls blood sugar better than doing one longer workout.

Short bursts of exercise reduce health risks and benefit your heart and brain and lead to weight loss,” says NYC-area certified fitness trainer Jessica Mazzucco. “When you engage in a short burst of activity or a 10-minute workout and accumulate up to 30 minutes a day, you elevate your heart rate each time. This can lead to reduced blood sugar levels and decrease your risk of metabolic disorders.” She notes that other benefits may include a boost to your concentration, memory and mood.


Going to the gym first thing in the morning or working out at the end of a long day can be difficult — you’re likely low on energy and short on time. But most of us have a few minutes of downtime sprinkled into our regular schedules. Mazzucco suggests harnessing these moments to squeeze in a quick workout.

Try waking up a little earlier than usual, and use the extra time to engage in some brisk exercise. Fit a short workout into your lunch break, during a lull in your workday, when you get home from work or before you go to bed. If you find a few different periods to move, you can tally that time up to reach the 30-minute goal with ease.

“Making a fitness plan can also help you stay on track with your goals,” says Mazzucco. “Try setting aside 10 minutes of free time three times a day. Mark it in your calendar, and try to stick to that time. Remember consistency is key in reaching more substantial results. It will then become easier to complete your exercises and become more like a daily routine.”


Below, Mazzucco recommends five workouts you can do anywhere — at home, in your office or even outside — quickly and with minimal equipment. Do one exercise in the morning, one at lunch and one in the evening (or string them together however your schedule allows), and you’ll accumulate 30 minutes of heart-healthy exercise.

For each set, aim for 30 seconds of work and 20 seconds of rest, and repeat each set 3–4 times.


Mountain Climbers

Get into a pushup position on your hands and toes. Alternate pulling your legs in toward your chest. As you pull one knee in, the other leg moves back to the starting position.


Get into a tabletop position on your hands and knees. Brace your core and slightly lift your knees off the ground. Move your right hand and left foot forward at the same time, placing them back on the ground about a foot in front of where they were. Continue moving forward by moving the left hand and right foot, and then alternating back and forth. Do not rotate your hips or spine throughout the movement.

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Squat Jumps

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and sink your hips down and back into a squat position until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Then jump into the air and land softly back in a squat position.


“Purchasing a resistance band can help with arm and shoulder exercises, and they are easy to take to work or wherever you go,” says Mazzucco. Place the resistance band beneath your feet, and stand with your feet hip-width apart, resting your hands on the front of your thighs. Pull the handles up toward your chin, about chest height, so your elbows are facing out and up at the top of the move. Make sure your core is engaged and your back is straight.


Squat down, place your hands on the ground, and jump your legs and feet back into a plank position. Then, jump your legs forward and return to a squat position. Then, jump into the air with your arms over your head to complete the rep.

For more fitness inspiration, check out “Workout Routines” in the app to discover and log a wide variety of routines by performance specialists. Or build your own routine with exercises that fit your goals.


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