For warding off weight gain, every minute of exercise really does count

Saying you don't have time to exercise isn't an excuse. Here are simple ways to squeeze physical activity into your day. (Associated Press/The State Journal-Register -- Justin L. Fowler)

Saying you don’t have time to exercise isn’t an excuse. Here are simple ways to squeeze physical activity into your day. (Associated Press/The State Journal-Register — Justin L. Fowler)

There’s no end to the number of excuses we come up with not to exercise. The treadmill is boring. We’re too tired to go for a bike ride. The gym is too crowded after work. The most common one? We simply don’t have time.

Well, consider that excuse officially busted. A new study published in the latest issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion found that in terms of moderate to vigorous exercise, the saying “every minute counts” is an accurate one. Researchers looked at whether extremely short bouts of intense physical activity — we’re talking less than 10 minutes — had an effect on participants’ weight outcomes. The results showed that even just a little heart-pumping movement was associated with lower body mass indexes and a decreased risk of obesity.

In other words, it’s possible to keep your waistline in check no matter how crammed your schedule. The researchers point out that the quick bouts of exercise need to be of high intensity to prevent weight gain — think running at a sprint rather than meandering at a stroll. They also note that their study specifically examined the number on the scale; the many other benefits of exercise — such as a healthier heart, lower blood pressure and increased energy — weren’t taken into consideration.

For optimal health and fitness, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation of at least 150 minutes of moderate to intense aerobic activity per week, in increments of at least 10 minutes, still holds true. But on those really hectic days where even 10 free minutes are tough to come by, you can still take steps to achieve or maintain a healthy weight.

Here are five ways to rev up your heart rate in a flash.

1. Hit the steps. Racing up a flight of stairs over and over again quickly will leave you short of breath.

2. Jump rope. Eight-year-olds make it look easy, but in reality, jumping rope is a pretty difficult cardiovascular activity.

3. Skip the commercials.
Use those few minutes between TV shows to do jumping jacks, burpees, high knees or another aerobic exercise.

4. Bust a move.
Turning up the tunes and dancing around your living room is a great way to squeeze in a quick bout of physical activity.

5. Go uphill. Find a steep hill and power walk up it, swinging your arms and keeping your abs tight to engage your whole body.

What are your favorite ways to exercise in a matter of minutes?

Related: Circuit workout: Goblet squats, jumping jacks and man-makers

About Katie Markey McLaughlin

Katie Markey McLaughlin, M.S., is a freelance journalist and blogger who’s passionate about all things healthy living. Learn more about her writing at KatieMcLcom.
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