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Are short workouts effective?

Posted January 27, 2020 by Ali Ziegler, Athletic Trainer – Summa Health Sports Medicine


As a general goal, it is recommended that we get at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day, more if you’re looking to lose weight. However, some people find it hard to carve out those 30 minutes every day. Some may only have time for a short 10-minute workout. So, is it still worth exercising even if it’s only for a few minutes at a time?

Studies have shown that short workouts throughout the day are just as beneficial as long continuous ones.


In this study, four groups of exercisers were compared:

  • Non-exercisers
  • Exercisers that do three 10-minute workouts/day
  • Exercisers that do two 15-minute workouts/day
  • Exercisers that do one 30-minute workout/day

The study revealed that people who exercised regularly, regardless of how long or short the time spent exercising, lost weight and increased their endurance.

It is important to find an exercise routine that you can fit in to your daily routine. Even if you can only fit in a 10 – 20-minute workout per day, it’ll be worthwhile. If you’re trying to lose weight, multiple short workouts can be a more effective way to work out – when you exercise, your metabolism gradually speeds up, then gradually slows back down. As your metabolism slowly comes down, you are still burning calories at the elevated rate. So, when you elevate your metabolism more often, you burn more calories throughout the day.


How to Plan a Quick and Effective Workout

  • If you are busy and can realistically only exercise for short bouts throughout the day, be strategic about it and fit them in whenever you can. Here are some ideas for fitting in effective 10-minute workouts during your day:

  • Take a brisk walk before your morning shower, during your lunch break or right before dinner.
  • During your 10-minute walks, do a burst of vigorous walking for 2 minutes that is faster or more intense than your normal pace to burn more calories and improve your cardiorespiratory fitness.
  • If you settle in to watch TV, hold a plank during every commercial break of your first episode.
  • Do some squats as you cook dinner or get the kids ready for bed.
  • Drop down and do some push ups throughout the day – they work the whole body.


When it comes to exercising, finding the time can be a major barrier to getting a workout in every day. In an ideal world, we would all have the time to fit in a full workout, but realistically some of us only have a few minutes to spare, and any time spent exercising is better than not exercising at all.

Talk to your Summa Health primary care physician before starting a workout routine and for more tips to improve your health and strength.


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