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High-intensity routines are brief and effective but not easy

Woman working out in her living room.
Woman working out in her living room.
Photo: Oscar Wong/Getty Images

Researchers are racing to figure out the minimum amount of exercise needed to improve fitness and health. Findings in multiple labs have generated tantalizing headlines suggesting all you need is one lousy minute of effort or, based on one new study, a mere four seconds.

Illustration: Maria Chimishkyan

Test Gym

Your ideal cardio program is the one that motivates you to continue day after day and keep pushing

By now, you know that cardio workouts are excellent for improving your overall health and fitness, but with so many options, you can be forgiven for being confused about the best approach. Runners swear their activity is best, while cyclists, swimmers, and triathletes all make similar claims. Even the title of fittest athlete is up for grabs, with triathletes, CrossFit competitors, Nordic skiers, and more all vying. The options for cardio training are nearly endless: circuit training, the one-minute workout, high-intensity interval training, spin bikes, and treadmill routines, to name just a few.

A six-pack isn’t the same as a certification

A photo of a woman recording herself doing a workout using her smartphone on a tripod.
A photo of a woman recording herself doing a workout using her smartphone on a tripod.
Photo: thianchai sitthikongsak/Getty Images

When the pandemic forced Americans to hunker down at home and stay out of the gym, at-home workouts surged in popularity. But even as gyms reopen throughout the country, most people say they aren’t hurrying back — and many fitness influencers have seen massive, persistent boosts in subscribers. YouTubers like Chloe Ting, Maddie Lymburner (aka MadFit), and Pamela Reif promise homebound viewers slim thighs, round booties, and flat bellies. Over the month of May alone, Ting gained more than three million subscribers while Reif and Lymburner each gained more than half a million.

The author, photographed via FaceTime, demonstrates the “bird-dog”. Photography: Andi Elloway

If squeezing in a workout feels like a pipe dream, here’s a little something you can do instead

A notification just popped up on my phone’s lock screen from the app FitOn. “NEW Quarantine Workouts,” it said. “Gab Union and DWade will make you sweat, laugh all at the same time.”

Even when the pandemic ends, the fitness industry will look very different — as will the ways people work out

Photo: recep-bg/Getty Images

As the coronavirus made its way across the world, Jade Wootton finally became a runner.

We asked top athletes what they’re doing during the pandemic. Here’s what they told us.

Desiree Linden. Photo: Boston Globe/Getty Images

People in office jobs are working from home. Many service industry employees have been furloughed or laid off. And professional athletes? They’re out of work at the moment, too.

Desiree Linden

Sport: Marathon

Illustrations: Jaedoo Lee

Balance your need to sweat and stay centered

These bodyweight moves improve not just your strength but also your coordination, balance, and flexibility. And because they’re bookended by two-minute meditations, you’ll enter and exit with a clear mind.

Illustrations: Jaedoo Lee

Maintain your strength and your distance

Maybe you live in an apartment complex and don’t dare jump rope or slam down a heavy weight. Maybe you wore your one pair of sneakers to go for a run and don’t want to wear them indoors. Or maybe you just want a low-fuss way to get stronger or maintain the strength you’ve already built. These moves, which only require a resistance band, are for you.

A pair of running shoes and a small house inside a fishbowl.
A pair of running shoes and a small house inside a fishbowl.
Illustrations: Jaedoo Lee

How to keep moving when you can’t go very far

If you live in a denser area, it might not be easy to walk, run, or bike while maintaining a safe distance from others right now. (Or maybe you’re just used to relying on a treadmill at your now-closed gym for your cardio needs.) So how can you get your heart pumping in your living room? One idea is to give plyometrics a try: These fast-paced, jump-based moves tax your muscles quickly and leave you breathless.

“These plyometric moves elevate your heart rate and allow you to push the intensity knowing you’ll get a rest.”

“Similar to intervals on a…

These streaming services make it easy (well, easier) to stay active even when the gym is off-limits

Photo: The Class

Follow Elemental’s ongoing coverage of the coronavirus outbreak here.

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