Fast-track to fit or dead end?

The Truth About Minute Fitness Plans

Got a minute? That’s about the only amount of time left in today’s fitness world that is not attached to any workout. From coast to coast in advertisements on television to the Internet, fitness centers and home DVD companies are offering a myriad of exercise programs that are getting shorter by the minute. From “8-Minute Pilates” to “15-Minute Zumba” training, there seems to be a quick-fix exercise for all workout preferences.

However, such workouts aren’t always all they’re promoted to be. Instead, fitness experts say, all they are getting is 30 seconds of marketing hype. “The type of workout you should do really depends on what kind of results you are trying to achieve,” says Melissa Helm, ATC, an athletic trainer with Lakeland Regional Medical Center. “You have to evaluate what kind of goals you have, and where you are physically, before you can start any type of exercise program.”

The American Council on Exercise supports government guidelines of 30 minutes of moderately intense activity on most days, averaging about five days a week or 150 minutes. This can help prevent inactivity related diseases like obesity, diabetes and heart disease. A more vigorous workout can lead to higher levels of fitness and can be done less frequently and in less time.

One of the shortest effective forms of daily exercise is interval training: a form of cardiovascular training where you play with your intensity. “To support cardiovascular fitness, interval training for as short as 6-minute intervals has been proven to be very effective,” Helm says. “Some exercises people will do will be a minute and a half of stationary biking at maximum level, a minute on and a minute off the elliptical or treadmill, or even sprinting up hills and walking down them.” People do one minute really hard, then two minutes at a recovery pace to catch your breath. Repeating the intervals at different lengths of time until 12 or 20 minutes of total exercise has passed. The 20 minutes you get in intervals can equal the 60 minutes of exercise in a steady state.

So, how do you know what length of a workout is good for you? First, don’t get discouraged if you can’t work in 30 minutes of exercise at a time or per day. Instead, try to work your way up to that goal.

“Working too hard everyday at the same exercise can overtrain an area and cause the muscles to shorten,” says Terri Stonick, DPT, CLT, MBA, the manager of the Lakeland Regional Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine Clinic, which is the outpatient rehab center.

Stonick and Helm emphasize the importance of working with a doctor or athletic trainer to develop the proper workout plan to safely achieve the best results. If you find you are experiencing prolonged muscle discomfort or not recovering adequately following your workout, you are probably doing too much too soon. Ultimately, the goal is to find the time to do those types of exercises you enjoy.



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