Fitness Articles

Use Shorter Workouts to Build Consistency

Fitness News Flash

Most experts recommend that you engage in up to 90 minutes of physical activity most days of the week, emphasizing that you gradually work your way up to that duration. However, a recent study conducted at Boston Sports Clubs found that participants who exercised for 20-30 minutes did so more consistently than those involved in 45-60 minute workout sessions. This study shows that you’re more likely to stick to a shorter duration workout than a longer one. 

Action Sparked
If you’re having trouble staying consistent with exercise (and most of you tell us you are ), try a shorter workout session. Tell yourself that you’ll exercise for 10 or 15 minutes, and follow through with it. Of course 10 minutes of exercise is better than totally skipping a workout. But, once you’ve hit that small goal (whether it’s 5, 10, or 20 minutes), ask yourself if you could keep going. You may find that planning on a short workout is enough to get you to the gym, and once you’re there, you can do a lot more than you thought.

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Member Comments

  • very useful tips
  • Thanks for sharing!
  • Never taught. Thank you
  • This approach works! When I got back into exercise I was working and found that taking 10 - 15 min walks during the day got me moving.
  • Like this...another one I pinned. I think I might have missed the first one I wanted to pin
  • I can see how this can work
  • Small changes lead to big changes and big changes lead to results.
  • This is a great article. Thanks so much Coach Nicole.
    This article makes common sense, no matter if you are health challenged or not! Do whatever exercise your body and health allows, do it more often if you can, but if you can only do 10 min, at least you did that. Quit complaining that the majority of articles are for the average person, just do what you can. Just do it. I ride an exercise bike every day....
  • I'm gonna write this in caps because it's so important.
    When I got back involved with Spark in October, I took this advice. I set my goal for AT LEAST 10 minutes. I almost always did 30, but I knew if I couldn't, I would still be meeting my goals and succeeding. Doing this for the entire month of October changed my life. Really. I have now learned to be CONSISTENT for the first time in my life.
  • Once again, articles are contradictory. This article says short workouts are good, but in the article "Hard Truths About Exercising", it says if you're not working out for at least 60 min. at 60-80% target heart rate, you're not exercising. You can't have it both ways. I do wish Sparkpeople would get their act together and be consistent. What about people who can't exercise for more than 10 minutes?
  • This is exactly how my now 908-day exercise streak started. I committed to 10 minutes a day of ANYTHING - walking, yoga, strength training, Spark video, whatever. When I got comfortable with that (after about 3 weeks), I raised the stakes to 20 minutes a day, and have not missed in almost 2 1/2 years.
  • HIIT routines are a good workout and are generally between 20-30 minutes long. I have been doing 20-25 minute HIIT various routines and walking 20-30 minutes at lunch. I try to mix up my routines to keep it interesting. Good luck everyone. Do whatever it takes for you to stick with it.
  • This is helpful to read. I have to work on this mentally, though. I always feel bad if I cut a workout short, thinking to myself that I'm not being as diligent or determined. I still have that mindset that if I cannot commit 45 - 60 min, I am not making progress. This is a great wake-up call though - I can see that there are many days I could have squeezed in even 30 min, and instead of doing so, I didn't bother to work out at all because I had that longer time commitment in my head. It's all about consistency, and I appreciate the reminder!

About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, Nicole loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Nicole was formerly SparkPeople's fitness expert and editor-in-chief, known on the site as "Coach Nicole." Make sure to explore more of her articles and blog posts.