Well Being

The Perfect Workout In Just 7 Minutes

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young woman working out in side plank pose

The fitness landscape in 2013 is vast and varied, which can be great for workout buffs and athletic types—those who appreciate physical challenge, like trying new things and genuinely do enjoy the burn. But what about those of us who just want to do the minimal physical activity required, in the quickest way possible, to reap exercising's health benefits?

Actually, we're in luck. Researchers at the Human Performance Institute in Orlando, Florida, have pinpointed a series of 12 high-intensity exercises that can be completed in just seven minutes and yet hit all the major workout targets. Gretchen Reynolds at The New York Times' Well blog describes it as “combining a long run and a visit to the weight room into about seven minutes of steady discomfort—all of it based on science.”

The routine, published in the American College of Sports Medicine's Health & Fitness Journal, relies entirely on body weight resistance; the only equipment you need is a chair and a wall.

Co-author Chris Jordan, director of Exercise Physiology at HPI, said high-intensity interval training of this sort provides “many of the fitness benefits of prolonged endurance training but in much less time.”

Although the traditional habit of separating aerobic exercise and strength training is “effective,” it may not be “realistic enough for time-conscious adults,” Jordan and co-author Brett Klika write in the paper's introduction. “Our approach combines aerobic and resistance training into a single exercise bout lasting approximately 7 minutes … (that) can be done anywhere.”

While high-intensity circuit training of this sort is nothing new, it has been growing in popularity—both due to our “time-constrained society” and its efficiency, the authors note. It's been found to “elicit aerobic and metabolic benefits” for up to 72 hours afterward, including:

  • Increased levels of catecholamines and growth hormone in the blood, which can help with subcutaneous fat loss.
  • Increased levels of V˙O2max, a marker of heart health.
  • Decreased insulin resistance as well

So what's on this 7-minute turbo workout?

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