Even a perfectly planned workout schedule can have its hiccups occasionally. We’ve all been there at times…a meeting runs too long at work, the morning didn’t go as planned thanks to the kids being kids, or you simply lack the motivation to get yourself to the gym and complete your workout.
Whatever the case (or excuse) for not being able to squeeze in your regular workout routine, that’s ok! Rather than giving up your exercise for the day because you can’t devote the regular amount of time you normally would, you can still sneak in a micro workout and enjoy health benefits while working on your fitness goals.
What is a Micro Workout?
First of all, what’s a micro workout, anyway? There seems to be conflicting opinions in the fitness industry, with some experts defining a micro workout as anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes in length, while others say that you can complete a micro workout in as little as a few minutes.
Micro workouts are short bursts of physical activity that are typically higher intensity on the challenge level. While you may think that doing an exercise for just a few minutes may not even be worth the effort, it certainly can be. After all, some physical activity is better than none at all.
If you’ve heard of micro workouts, you may have also heard the term “micro HIIT.” High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is already known for its short periods of intense exercise alternated with brief recovery periods. The exercises require full effort to counter the short time frames, in order to keep your heart rate elevated and burn fat during your workout. An ideal HIIT workout ranges from 20 to 30 minutes, as any longer than that would be too long to work at 100 percent capacity. Micro HIIT workouts are less than 20 minutes and still incorporate very brief, but intense exercises.
Can You Benefit from a Micro Workout?
When you’re completing a micro workout, it’s crucial to make the little amount of time available work for you, in the most efficient way possible. That means increase the intensity to increase the calories burned. When your body is expending a lot of energy in a short amount of time, your oxygen demand can surpass the oxygen supply available, moving you into anaerobic exercise. Anaerobic exercise uses energy stored in the muscles for fuel, resulting in a great workout with awesome benefits, keeping your heart rate elevated and your metabolism boosted after your workout ends.
Even at moderate intensity, though, a micro workout has its advantages. Other than being quick and saving time in your day, micro workouts typically require minimal equipment and can also be quite beneficial to your body and overall health.
Research has found that as little as 4 minutes of exercise can increase your cardiometabolic health, which can help prevent heart attack, stroke, diabetes, insulin resistance, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Improved mental focus has also proven noticeable after just 10 minutes of vigorous exercise, which makes a micro workout the perfect reprieve between work meetings or when you simply feel overwhelmed by your busy schedule.
You can even do multiple shorter workouts throughout the day, rather than limiting yourself to just one. Since micro workouts can be as short as a few minutes, it’s easier to fit them into your busy day and they can help you stick to a fitness routine, building a healthy, active lifestyle. Another bonus? Micro workouts don’t affect your appetite as much as a longer, more exhaustive exercise session might, keeping your hunger in check and lowering your chance of overeating afterward.
While shorter, micro workouts can be useful, you do still need at least 30 minutes of moderate activity, five days per week. Whether you combine multiple shorter workouts throughout the day, or mix in a few per week to add variety, micro workouts can be used as another option to help you along your fitness journey.
Another reason why staying active is important? People in their 30’s begin experiencing some degree of age-related muscle loss, but if you stay active daily, you’re likely to prevent or reduce that from happening. Inactivity can lead to losing an average of 3 to 5 percent of your muscle mass per decade. That’s why it’s so important to maintain a healthy muscle mass to help prevent falls and increase quality of life and longevity. Micro workouts can help.
Sample Micro Workouts
It can be daunting to try a new exercise or routine but incorporating micro workouts into your daily or weekly schedule can certainly be worth your time. Below are some sample workouts and tips for adding micro workouts to your busy schedule.
- Stationary cycling and walking uphill can be done at a high intensity for 10 minutes, which are both great if you’re a beginner, are overweight, or need a low impact exercise. Jogging is also a wonderful option but remember to build up your distance slowly to prevent injury.
- Build your own micro circuit or try this one: Do 20 side-to-side alternating lunges, 15 push-ups, then 5 pull-ups. Rest for 20 to 30 seconds, perform the circuit again, and repeat up to 5 times or to fill the amount of time you have available.
- Instead of sitting idly during your next conference call, turn your video off and perform a short circuit of 30 seconds jogging in place, 15 squats, and 10 burpees for 10 to 15 minutes, with short breaks in between.
- Install a pull-up bar in your doorway so you’ll be prompted to complete a few when walking by, or leave your resistance bands near the couch and make a rule to do a micro workout with them before sitting down to watch TV.
- Haven’t jumped rope since you were a kid? It’s a great anaerobic exercise to get your heart pumping in a short amount of time.
No More Excuses
Now that you know how beneficial micro workouts can be, there’s no reason for making excuses. In as little as a few minutes, you can exercise your way to better health and a regular fitness routine.
If you need help setting fitness goals, customized nutrition plans, and support along your wellness journey, join EōS now to receive a Complimentary Welcome Workout with a Personal Trainer.