Brief Exercise: Can You Get Fit Exercising Only Ten Minutes?


Are you getting at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week? That’s the amount the Centers for Disease Control recommends for heart health. That may sound like a lot, but you can fit it in by doing 30 minutes a day and still have the weekends off. Still, there are people who say they simply can’t find the time to do a full 30 minutes every day. That’s no longer a good excuse.

Research shows that you can get the benefits of exercise with sessions as short as 10 minutes. In other words, three 10-minute sessions daily can be just as effective as one 30-minute one. In fact, it may have even greater health benefits, at least when it comes to controlling your blood pressure and improving the health of your heart.

In a study carried out at Arizona State University, researchers found that three 10-minute aerobic exercise sessions a day lowered blood pressure more than a sustained 30-minute one. The participants simply walked at a brisk pace for 10 minutes three times a day to get the benefits. Most people, no matter how busy can find the time to walk briskly for 10 minutes at a stretch. Short exercise sessions like these can improve your aerobic capacity or your heart’s ability to pump oxygen to tissues. Pumping up your activity level several times a day also helps with weight control since each session kicks your metabolism out of “sleep” mode.

Still think you can’t fit them in? The key is to be an opportunist and look for ways to “sneak” in some exercise. Here are some suggestions:

Start the morning with a brisk walk as soon as you wake up.

When you’re at work, take a brisk walk during a portion of your lunch hour.

Go up and down the stairs for 10 minutes during breaks at work.

Jog in place, jump rope or step up and down on a step platform for 10 minutes while watching the news.

Take a brisk walk while talking on the phone or returning phone calls. We regularly see a man walking around our neighborhood talking on a cell phone in a suit. Sounds like he’s a smart multi-tasker.

When you eat at a restaurant, don’t stay glued to your chair while waiting on the food or waiting on a table. Take a brisk walk while you wait.

When you have an appointment and they’re running behind, don’t read a magazine. Take a brisk walk instead.

Before getting into your car, ask yourself whether you could walk or bike instead.

Do something nice for your dog by taking them on a brisk walk at least once a day.

If you eat lunch out at work, choose a restaurant you can walk to.

When you’re preparing dinner, do jumping jacks or run in place instead of standing around while waiting for something to heat up.

When you go to your mailbox or pick up the paper, extend your walk to the corner or around the block.

Instead of listening to music, dance to it instead.

Forget about elevators, and make friends with the stairs.

Keep an exercise DVD in the player so you can turn it on when you have a little free time.

Develop new hobbies that will help you stay active like hiking, gardening and taking nature walks.

Wear a pedometer as a reminder to keep moving. Aim for 10,000 steps a day.

The Bottom Line?

Even if you can’t do 30 minutes of sustained exercise, you can still get benefits doing shorter bursts of exercise. Make it a habit to take advantage of the free moments you have to slip in a little exercise.


Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012 Aug 2.

One Response to “Brief Exercise: Can You Get Fit Exercising Only Ten Minutes?”

  1. Aw, this was a really nice post. Taking the time and actual effort to generate a good article… but what can I say… I hesitate a whole lot and don't seem to get anything done.