We’re a nation of on-the-go, sooner-better-than-later people. We want results now. If not yesterday. Our attention spans are limited, and demands for our time and attention are legion. In light of this pressure to achieve instant gratification, it may be hard to credit that a meaningful workout could take place in seven minutes.
Surely, truly beneficial exercise—meaning activity adequate to deliver genuine, measurable health benefits—takes more time and dedication that a mere seven minutes per day. Doesn’t it? Not so much, as it turns out.
This is one instance where faster may be just as good, if not better. And, to the extent that you do a convenient seven-minute workout daily, it may actually be far better than doing longer workouts whenever you happen to have the time. That’s because brief, intensive exercise is capable of delivering many of the health benefits we’ve long associated with workouts that take up far more time. It may sound too good to be true, but it is actually possible to fit in your daily dose of physical fitness in record time.
Of course, it also helps if you make an effort to be more active throughout the day. Emerging science shows that simply being sedentary—sitting too much—is an independent risk factor for heart disease. So, not only is moving and being active in general crucial, but the opposite behavior—sitting around not moving—is actually damaging to your longterm health. So park at the back of the lot. Take the stairs whenever possible. Walk the dog. Walk the block. Get up and stretch every hour or so if you must sit at a desk. And engage in the following workout daily. Do all the exercises, or chose a sampling.
You remember these from grade-school gym, right? Stand with legs apart, hands held overhead. Jump up, bring your legs together, and your hands down to your side. Repeat for 30 seconds, rapidly. Immediately proceed to:
With your back to a supportive wall, stand with feet hip-distance apart. Lean towards the wall, and squat as if you are sitting in a chair. Thighs should be horizontal and aligned with the floor. Cross your arms and hold for 30 seconds. Rise up and repeat twice.
The dreaded exercise that haunts your memories of high school gym class is actually an excellent way to build arm, back and core strength. In fact, it’s essentially a total-body workout that requires no tools or accessories.
Assume a plank position on the floor. Feet are together, or slightly spread, toes tucked under to support your weight. Place your hands under your shoulders, touching the floor. Elbows tucked in towards your ribs. Raise your body weight with your arms, keeping your back straight. Lower back to the floor and repeat. Keep back and hips level. Do as many repetitions as you can for 30 seconds.
On your back, in the floor, bend your knees and place your feet flat. Using your abdominal muscles, raise your head and arms and reach for your knees. Return to starting position and repeat, rapidly, for 30 seconds.
Facing a stable chair, or staircase, step up to the chair surface (or the second or third step) with one leg. Bring the other leg up to join the first. Then step down and repeat, alternating the initial leg. Do this rapidly; as many as you can fit in in 30 seconds.
Similar to push-ups, but your body weight is supported by your toes and elbows, and the position is held for up to 30 seconds.
Elbows close to your sides, palms down and fingers facing forward, lie on the floor with feet close together and toes curled under. Raise up so your weight is supported by your elbows and feet. Hold for up to 30 seconds. Go longer if you can.
Run in place for 30 seconds, raising you knees high enough that you can slap them with your outstretched hands, held at waist height. Do it rapidly, intensively, for 30 seconds.
Familiar to early-winter skiers who are eager to get back into mountain-tackling shape, lunges are a good way to burn calories while strengthening the thighs. Standing with your feet together, step forward with the right foot. Drop the pelvis so the legs are both at about 90 degree angles to the floor. Bring that forward leg back, then repeat with the opposite leg. Repeat for 30 seconds. The deeper the lunge, the better the workout.