Express Workouts: Moving Through the Day

Trade your hour-long workout for 5 mini-sessions! Don’t let an “all or nothing” mentality of exercise sabotage your fitness regimen. Instead of skipping a workout because you don’t have the time to do a full routine, get creative about incorporating 10 to 15 minute bouts of cardio, strengthening and stretching into your day.  

Mounting research supports the benefits of brief doses of exercise done consistently over time and finds that people are more likely to stick with workouts of shorter duration. Studies show that exercise accumulated in short bouts offers weight loss and aerobic fitness benefits comparable to those achieved in longer sessions.You can reduce high blood pressure and the risk of heart disease, strengthen your muscles and bones, and improve your flexibility and posture – all in little mini-workouts throughout the day.

According to the 2008 Surgeon General Exercise Guidelines, adults gain the most substantial benefits by participating in at least 150 minutes, or 2 hours and 30 minutes, of moderate intensity physical activity each week. This breaks down to 30 minutes, five days per week. Even short, 10-minute bursts of activity count toward the overall goal of 150 accumulated minutes. Strength building activities like push ups and lifting weights are included as an added benefit for improving health and strengthening muscles.

Develop a mindset that finds the opportunity to move throughout the day. See where you can find the time to squeeze in a few minutes of exercise each day. For example, do some stretches and bodyweight exercises when you wake up in the morning. Accumulate 15 minutes of walking on your way to work or at lunch. Take a stretch break at your desk during the day – it will refresh your mind as well as your muscles and improve your posture, too.  When you get home skip the glass of wine and do a 15-minute DVD for strength training – try one with intervals of cardio to keep your heart rate elevated.

Sample Schedule:  5 Mini Sessions Replace Hour-long Workout

6:15 am      Wake Up: Stretch and body weight exercises                10 mins.
8:15           Walk partway to work or taking kids to school                15 mins.
10:15         Coffee Break: Stretch band exercises at your desk          10 mins.
12:15 pm    Lunch: take a walk                                                       15 mins.
3:15 pm      Skip the vending machine and walk the stairs instead      10 mins.
5:15           Optional or bonus dose: 15-Minute DVD                         15 mins.

Think of your 10 or 15 minutes as “building blocks” of fitness and see how many you can accumulate during the day.  Create a lifestyle of mini-workouts to pump up your heart rate, burn calories and stay strong!  

Joan Pagano, former trainer to Jacqueline Onassis and Caroline Kennedy, has specialized in strength training for women since 1988. She is the author of five best-selling exercise books, including 15-Minute Total Body Workout + DVD.  For more about Joan, her books and services, please visit