Most people think that they'll benefit from aerobic exercise only when they do it for 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week.
This is old thinking. You don't need extended workouts to strengthen muscles, increase cardiovascular fitness or lower your blood pressure, blood sugar and triglycerides. You can achieve these and other fitness benefits with 10 minutes of exercise a day.
The secret is High Energy Aerobic Training (HEAT), my take on high-intensity interval training.
How It Works
For decades, trainers argued that effective aerobic exercise required elevating your heart rate to 65% to 80% of its maximum rate and keeping it there for 30 minutes or longer.
The problem with this approach-besides the fact that few people are willing to dedicate this much time to exercise-is that it's not as effective as higher-intensity movements. For example, high-intensity interval training has been shown to not only accelerate your metabolism during exercise but also long after the workout is over. Research shows exercise is most effective when it challenges muscles, including the heart and lungs, at higher levels of intensity.
With HEAT, you alternate intense 30-second bursts of exercise with 30-second periods of moderate exercise. This means that your muscles and organs are repeatedly pushed to their limits. But because the intense phase lasts only 30 seconds, it's achievable even for those who are new to exercise.
A study at the University of New South Wales and Garvan Institute found that overweight women who alternated high-intensity with moderate activity lost three times more weight than those who exercised at a continuous pace for twice as long. The HEAT method also improves levels of lipids (blood fats) and increases endurance.
The Easy 4-3-2-1 Program
I developed a program that packs every type of beneficial exercise into one 10-minute session. It's called 4-3-2-1 because it includes four minutes of aerobic exercise...three minutes of resistance exercise (such as body weight exercises)...two minutes of core strengthening and one minute of stretching and deep breathing.
To keep time, you can use a large wall clock with a second hand...a wristwatch with a second hand.. a digital sports watch...a stopwatch...or a cell phone with a stopwatch feature.
As you advance, you can repeat sections or the entire circuit. For beginners, I recommend the following…
4-Minutes Of Aerobic Training
- Chair jogging. Sit upright on the edge of a sturdy chair with your arms bent at a 90° angle. Warm up by gently moving your arms and legs as though jogging slowly, raising your knees as high as you comfortably can. Do this for 30 seconds. Next, bend forward slightly from the waist, and perform the same motion, but faster. Move as quickly as you comfortably can. Maintain this brisk pace for 30 seconds. Alternate between fast and slow running" every 30 seconds for four minutes.
3-Minutes Of Resistance Training
- Wall squat. Lean your back against a wall with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your sides. Walk your feet out from the wall two to three feet. Bend your knees slightly. Keeping your back against the wall, bend your knees more and slowly slide down. Go as low as you comfortably can, but not so far that your knees extend over your toes. Try to hold the squat for one minute. Then, without resting, do a wall push-up…
- Wall push-up. Face the wall. Place your hands against the wall, with your hands a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Walk your feet back from the wall two to three feet. Rise onto the balls of your feet, and lean into the wall. With your knees slightly bent, lower your face and chest slowly toward the wall. Go as far as you comfortably can. Now press your hands into the wall to push yourself back to the starting position. Repeat as many times as you can in one minute. Then, without resting, move on to a stationary lunge…
- Stationary lunge. Stand straight next to the wall or a chair for balance, just in case) with your arms hanging loosely at your sides. Step backward three to four feet with your left foot. Press into the floor with the heel of your right foot in front) and the ball of your left foot (in back). Make sure that your weight is balanced. Bend both knees, lowering your right thigh until it's parallel to the floor. "Lunge down as low as you can-but don't let your left knee rest on the floor. Hold for 30 seconds. Return to the starting position. Reverse the sequence, and repeat with the other leg, again holding for 30 seconds.
2-Minutes Of Core Strengthening
- Chair plank. Place your hands shoulder-width apart on the back of a sturdy chair, desk or table at waist level. Keep your feet close together, and lean forward. Imagine that you're a long, strong board that's leaning against a table. While holding this position and keeping your body straight, rise onto the balls of your feet, keeping your arms extended, elbows slightly bent. Try to bold the position for one minute. Without resting, do a chair side bend.
- Chair side bend. Sit upright on the edge of a sturdy chair, with your feet hip-width apart and your knees at a 90° angle. Let your arms hang down, with your hands below your waist. Slowly lean your upper body to the left, lowering your left hand toward the floor, while keeping your buttocks firmly in place. Lean as far as you comfortably can without raising your buttocks off the chair. As you lean, let your head move in alignment with your upper body. Tighten the abdominal muscles, and stay in the side-bend position for two seconds. Return to the starting position, then repeat on the other side. Repeat as often as you can in one minute.
1-Minute Of Stretching
- Chair forward bend. Begin the same way you did in the exercise above but with your feet about shoulder-width apart. This time, lower your arms so that they're between your thighs. Relax your shoulders. Bend forward from the waist. Lower your chin to your chest, and let your hands drop toward the floor. Let your weight pull your upper body toward the floor. Hold this position for 30 seconds, breathing deeply throughout the stretch. Without resting, do a chair spinal twist…
- Chair spinal twist. Stay in the same chair, with your feet hip-width apart. Cross your hands and arms over your chest. Twist your upper body to the left, rotating from the waist and allowing your head and shoulders to move as one unit. Rotate as far as you can without bouncing or straining. Try to hold the stretch for 15 seconds, breathing deeply. Then repeat the movement in the other direction
Put Sleep Apnea to Bed
In a study of 31 adults with moderate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)—temporary cessation of breathing during sleep-about half the patients performed a daily regimen of tongue and throat exercises for three months, while the others underwent a sham treatment that included deep-breathing exercises.
Result: The exercise group had a 40% improvement, on average, in OSA symptoms, compared with virtually no changes in the sham therapy group
Theory: The exercise regimen may reposition the hyoid bone at the base of the tongue, reducing OSA symptoms.
If you have been diagnosed with moderate OSA: Ask your doctor to refer you to a speech therapist for tongue and throat exercises.