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Secret Side Effects of Exercising 10 Minutes a Day, Says Science

Less is more.

It's been a very, very long time since I've been in middle school. But to this day, the thought of exercising takes me straight back to P.E. classes where we had to run timed miles around the track for what felt like an eternity. Working out still feels like it requires lots of time and effort.

But that assumption is (thankfully) pretty far off the mark. The reality is that you can get a pretty good workout in just 10 minutes if you do it right. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), just 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity activity (running, HIIT, etc.) is enough to keep you healthy and fit. That shakes out to roughly 10 to 11 minutes per day of exercise. Not too shabby, eh?

The catch: Higher-intensity exercise can be tough, especially if we're talking about HIIT. The modality can require a lot of physical strength and exertion—and might not be the best for people with mobility issues, chronic pain, or other health issues.

But if it's your thing, you can reap great rewards. "HIIT is an extremely effective and efficient form of exercise, elevating your heart rate quickly and burning a significant amount of calories in a short amount of time," Tom Holland, MS, CSCS, CISSN, an exercise physiologist and author of The Micro-Workout Plan: Get the Body You Want without the Gym in 15 Minutes or Less a Day, previously told ETNT.

Plus, just 10 minutes of vigorous exercise every day can have some impressive benefits for your health. Here's what the latest research says. And don't miss: This 7-Minute Walking Trick Could Add Years to Your Life, Says Study.

1

You'll improve heart health

cyclist woman feet riding mountain bike on trail

Just 10 minutes of HIIT a few days a week can dramatically improve heart health. A 2014 study in PLOS One had a small group of sedentary, overweight men and women do a 10-minute HIIT-style cycling workout three times a week. After just six weeks, study participants had lower blood pressure, significantly improved aerobic capacity (aka the point where their body uses as much oxygen as possible), and other improved aerobic fitness biomarkers.

Additionally, shorter bursts of high-intensity workouts might be just as effective as longer, lower-intensity workouts for heart health. A 2016 study in PLOS One divided 27 sedentary men into three groups: one group that did three weekly 10-minute sessions of sprint interval training, one group that did three weekly 50-minute moderate-intensity training sessions, and one control group. The researchers found that after 12 weeks, people who did the 10-minute workouts enjoyed similar heart-health benefits to the 50-minute workout group. Read more: New Study Reveals Why This Popular Exercise Is So Good at Blasting Fat.

2

You'll live longer

woman walking
Shutterstock

Ten minutes of exercise doesn't seem like that much, but it can make a big difference to your lifespan. Public Health England and the Royal College of GPs says that just 10 minutes of brisk walking per day can reduce your risk of early death by up to 15%. Not too shabby, eh? For more, check out: Side Effects of Walking Just 10 Minutes Per Day, Says Science.

3

You'll boost your cognitive health

male runner eating protein bar while outside wearing headphones
Shutterstock / Prostock-studio

Taking a quick exercise break in the middle of the work day might be just the thing for combatting brain fog. A 2017 study in Neuropsychologia found that just 10 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise can help improve brain function. Specifically, study participants enjoyed improved reaction time on visual executive function tests after they worked out.

4

You can build muscle

Woman straining and struggling to lift weights at gym because of lost muscle mass
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Yes, just a short stint of strength training, when performed regularly, can be enough to get strong. Provided you have the right workout, of course. Prioritizing moves that work multiple muscle groups—and rotating them so that you're working every single one over the course of your workout—is key. "Done right, it will burn fat, elevate your heart rate, and rev your metabolism," Tim Liu, CSCS, previously wrote for ETNT. Here's his go-to, 10-minute workout for stronger muscles. And don't miss: The 30-Second Trick That Packs on Muscle, According to an Exercise Expert.

Jessie Van Amburg
Jessie Van Amburg is a freelance writer and editor who has covered health, nutrition, and lifestyle topics for top media outlets including Women's Health Magazine, TIME.com, and Well+Good. Read more
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