You Can Find Time to Exercise

Athletes and trainers know that alternating short bursts of high intensity exercise with moderate exercise, also known as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), offers great benefits. And a growing body of evidence demonstrates that high-intensity interval training (HIT) can be effective time-saving alternate to traditional endurance-based training, inducing similar or even superior physiological adaptations in healthy individuals.

In addition, recent research has shown that even those who don’t exercise regularly can gain significant health benefits by adding a few short bursts of more intense activity to their daily routine.

This style of exercise might also be neuro-protective. Just six minutes of high-intensity exercise could extend the lifespan of a healthy brain and delay the onset of disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Research shows that short – but intense – bouts of cycling increase the production of a specialized protein essential for brain formation, learning and memory, and could protect the brain from age-related cognitive decline. This insight might help develop affordable non-pharmacological approaches to healthy aging.

Maximum Benefit, Minimum Effort

In a recent study lasting nearly seven years, wearable devices tracked the activity of more than 25,000 people with an average age of 60 who were non-exercisers.

Participants who added three bursts of 1-2 minutes of vigorous activity during their daily routine were compared with those who maintained a normal activity level. Those who added short bursts of activity had a 50 percent lower risk of cardiovascular death and a 40 percent lower risk of cancer death than those who didn’t increase their activity level.

Short bursts of activity can be helpful to almost anyone. That’s because you can adapt the intensity and timing to your personal fitness level, appropriate for your maximum effort. However, talk with your doctor first if you have a history of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, COPD, are usually sedentary, or if you have had exercise-induced cardiovascular symptoms such as shortness of breath, lightheadedness, chest pain or palpitations. If you’re a non-exerciser, ease into short burst activity.

This shows that anyone – no matter their physical limitations or access to a gym – can make simple changes for long-term benefit. It could be as easy as increasing the pace of walking from work building to your car or quickly walking a few flights of stairs to get some important health benefits.

How to Do it

There are several ways you can perform this types of workouts into your weekly schedule. Ideally you do them 3-4 times a week.

  1. You can use a preferred form of exercise for the exercise intervals – cycling, swimming, sprinting, or using a jump rope. If using exercise equipment, you can increase the resistance for extra intensity and then reduce it for the rest period.
  1. You might do a variety of exercises using body weight, such as:
    • pressups
    • burpees
    • jumping jacks
    • squats
    • situps
    • mountain climbers

For example, here is a 25-minute workout:

  • 5-minute warmup
  • 15-minute circuit:
    • intense exercise for 15 seconds
    • rest 10 seconds
    • intense exercise for 15 seconds
    • rest 20 seconds
    • intense exercise for 15 seconds
    • rest 30 seconds
    • intense exercise for 15 seconds
    • rest 40 seconds
    • intense exercise for 15 seconds
    • rest 50 seconds
  • Repeat the sequence three more times for four total circuits
  • 5-minute cool down
  1. It could also be something as easy as incorporating 1-minute fast walking pick-ups into your walk or sprinting up 2 flights of stairs. Be creative. have fun with it and to add more accountability, do it with a colleague, family member or a friend!


I work with mid-life men and women who want to feel younger through improving their relationship to food, movement and mindfulness.

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