I love road cycling and mountain biking. What I don’t love is spinning on my indoor trainer during the winter months. For those who haven’t done it, it’s about as much fun as running on a treadmill which is to say, it’s not fun.
Spin bikes and treadmills are not fun for me so I go for short, high intensity workouts far more often than I go for long endurance rides on a spin bike. My typical week this year has contained 4-5 short workouts (25-35 minutes) and one long workout. I do this out of necessity rather than being trendy. In fact, until a few weeks ago I didn’t know that short, high intensity interval workouts were trendy.
The Benefits of Short Workouts
In my mind the best benefit of a short workout is that I can keep the momentum of an exercise habit rolling along. The hardest part of creating a exercise habit is starting it or restarting it after a break. Even if the workout is just 20 minutes of exercise, at least the habit is maintained for the day.
As I wrote last week, getting some exercise can help change your mood or spark creativity. When I’m feeling “stuck,” frustrated, or bored a quick bit of exercise can be the jumpstart that my brain needs to get back on a good mental path.
Short, high intensity interval workouts have been proven to burn more calories in the same amount of time as steady, moderate exercise. Similarly, HIIT workouts are proven to increase metabolism for the 24 hours following a workout more than in the 24 hours following a steady, moderate workout. What’s this mean? 20 minutes of alternating between sprinting and recovering burns more calories and increases metabolism more than just jogging for 20 minutes straight through. So if you’re time-crunched, like most of us, 20 minutes of high intensity interval training might be the best way to maximize your time.
Every little bit of exercise helps. Even if you can only make time for five or ten minutes, make the most of it and keep the exercise habit going. Once you get that habit going, just getting in a short workout will help keep the momentum going. And when you have momentum you will start to see results. Results won’t happen overnight or even after a few weeks, but in the long run you will see results.