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Use Shorter Workouts to Build Consistency

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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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About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
Nicole was named "America's Top Personal Trainer to Watch" in 2011. A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, she loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Her DVDs "Total Body Sculpting" and "28 Day Boot Camp" (a best seller) are available online and in stores nationwide. Read Nicole's full bio and blog posts.

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Member Comments

  • 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! - 8/22/2014 9:06:57 AM
  • The Cardio Blast DVD is great. I alternate between it and Leslie Sansone's Walk at Home 5 Mile Fat Burner DVD. Results: awesome, excellent, first rate. - 9/17/2012 9:49:26 AM
  • So true!

    I have a 7 days a week fitness plan I do faithfully that includes yoga, power walking, and strength training. All routines are short but all are a minimum of 20 minutes in duration.

    I LOVE doing these exercises and will be adding more time (power walking) since the weather has gotten cooler and I'll be able to walk outdoors with more comfort. - 9/17/2012 8:39:12 AM
  • BRENNAGIRL
    I agree wholeheartedly. When I lightened up on myself and set a goal of just moving my body in some way every day - I suddenly become very consistent (which makes the difference in the long run for me). It works. It works. It works. Now I've added on the 10 minute videos for the bootcamp and its so doable. I'm moving or working my body all the time now. All because I gave myself permission to take it easy if I want. Love Spark! - 5/9/2012 12:04:27 AM
  • What I'm finding that is working well for me is to break my workout into two (or more) sections. I go to the gym and put in 30-40 minutes doing cardio or weights each weekday morning; then later in the day I take a 30 minute walk. On weekends I try to put in an hour each day of some sort of activity - biking, walking, etc. As a busy working professional this works much better than trying to find a full hour each day, and honestly I'm enjoying it more. - 5/8/2012 1:25:43 PM
  • Yes, it works and it had worked for me. I did 28 day bootcamp challenge and I was able to stand to my feet now. - 1/8/2012 12:24:36 AM
  • Consistently geting in 20-30 minutes is better than only occassionally getting in 45-60 minutes. But managing to fit in 45-60 minutes 10-15 times a week is even better. Which for a few, is a compromise to finiding time for 2-3 hour training sessions more than once a week. - 4/25/2011 10:08:32 AM
  • I love it! I just started working out this past Monday (7th) and I'm on week two. The trainer they supplied with my membership showed me how to use the machines for 3 days of the week. I go on Tues & Thurs just to walk not thinking it was even helping because it was only 15 to 20mins. So, I have to remind myself it's more then what I use to do! I actually see the difference in the way my clothes fit! I think any exercise beats sitting and not doing anything! - 2/17/2011 6:27:25 AM
  • tabata - 2/17/2011 5:27:27 AM
  • I completely agree with this and that is why I found the bootcamp challenge so successfull. I didn't dread doing my excersizing for the day because it was only 10 mins. I have now worked up to 30 mins of strenght training (focusing on one body area per day) plus my cardio. Sparkpeople rocks! - 2/16/2011 12:38:39 PM
  • This is a wonderful article. I've had a hard time sticking to my workout plans. I had the all or nothing mentality so I barely worked out last sememster. This semester though, I go for a 30mins run and I tell myself that it will add up and its definately better than nothing. The thing that gets to me is that I fell that I'm only doing enough to maintain my weight and not loose. So maybe I need to control my diet a little more than I do currently. - 2/16/2011 11:15:48 AM
  • This is a wonderful article. I've had a hard time sticking to my workout plans. I had the all or nothing mentality so I barely worked out last sememster. This semester though, I go for a 30mins run and I tell myself that it will add up and its definately better than nothing. The thing that gets to me is that I fell that I'm only doing enough to maintain my weight and not loose. So maybe I need to control my diet a little more than I do currently. - 2/16/2011 8:19:55 AM
  • This is a wonderful article. I've had a hard time sticking to my workout plans. I had the all or nothing mentality so I barely worked out last sememster. This semester though, I go for a 30mins run and I tell myself that it will add up and its definately better than nothing. The thing that gets to me is that I fell that I'm only doing enough to maintain my weight and not loose. So maybe I need to control my diet a little more than I do currently. - 2/16/2011 8:19:08 AM
  • 30 to 60 minutes is much more attainable for most people. Working out for 90 minutes? Seriously? Most people don't have this amount of time. And no, I don't mean they don't make the time, I mean they just don't have it. - 2/16/2011 4:37:47 AM
  • My biggest challenge was making the time... I am truly extremely limited so I started out with just 10 minutes... bumped it up to 15 and now... though not consistantly ... I do 20 minutes... I need to focus on being consistent. - 7/30/2010 8:40:17 PM
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