Science Says a 10-Minute Exercise ‘Snack’ is Enough
Maybe you were one of those pandemic marathon people, or maybe life still feels so unpredictable or overwhelming that committing to a long workout seems impossible. And while the advent of boutique fitness over the past decade and a half made the 45- or 60-minute workout the norm, a growing body of research is giving people permission to rethink how they approach exercise.
In fact, when the government updated their recommendations for exercise in 2018, they declared that workouts of less than 10 minutes counted toward recommended weekly activity goals. So instead of prioritizing 45- or 60-minute workouts, your goal is that your weekly exercise time adds up to 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or some combination of the two.
“Rather than blow off your workout because you don’t have the time or motivation for a 45- or 60-minute session, know there is good scientific evidence validating the efficacy of short workouts,” says Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster University who studies interval training.
How is it possible that exercising for a fraction of the time can deliver the same results as a longer workout? In short, new research has shown that the same things can happen to your body regardless of exercise duration. “Exercise triggers certain metabolic pathways — think of them as fuel gauges being turned on,” explains Gibala. “When you exercise, your energy reserves start to decline, like a fuel gauge ticking down towards ‘empty.’ That triggers the lights on the dashboard to come on, which, in your body, translates to the stimulation of physiological responses: new blood vessels are formed, the heart becomes a stronger pump, and skeletal muscle gets better at being able to utilize oxygen to produce energy.”
“Rather than blow off your workout because you don’t have the time or motivation for a 45- or 60-minute session, know there is good scientific evidence validating the efficacy of short workouts.”