Habits of Fit People: Commit to Just 10 Minutes

By , SparkPeople Blogger
You want to be a fit person, right? That's why I'm sharing my own habits for keeping fit and staying healthy in the ongoing Habits of Fit People series.

Here's one that works for me: Commit to just 10 minutes. So why does something like this matter?

This is one of my best secrets to exercising regularly. Believe it or not, I struggle with working out just like anyone else. There are days that I feel lazy, tired, or like I'd rather sit on the couch than hit the gym. And then there are other times when I’m so busy with other things that putting in an hour at the gym just isn’t feasible. On days that I’m busy or just not feeling it, I promise myself that I'll do just 10 minutes of exercise. The way I see it, 10 minutes is better than nothing at all and it DOES count for something. Plus, I know that I’ll feel worse if I skipped out from exercise entirely than if I did a little bit.

Why it works: For one, committing to 10 minutes each day (or most days) keeps you in the habit of exercising regularly. It keeps fitness on your mind and gets your body moving. One skipped workout can easily turn into two, three or even seven sedentary days, am I right? But I don’t consider 10 minutes to be “skipping out,” so when I do a short workout like this, I’m more likely to keep up with my plans the following days.

Another reason it works? For most people, including myself, starting is half the battle. Once I get moving for a few minutes, I remember how good it feels, why I choose to make exercise a part of my life, and what my goals are. It’s truly motivating! You will feel accomplished if you do just 10 minutes of exercise (as opposed to feeling like a failure if you did nothing).

But there’s an even bigger payoff to keeping this habit. When you feel less-than-enthusiastic about exercising, 30, 45, or 60 minutes seems really overwhelming. But 10 minutes sounds reasonable. If you tell yourself that you have to put in10 minutes, after which you can stop if you choose, you'll still be more likely to continue with a longer workout. When I change my clothes and get going, 10 minutes flies by. And more often than not, I decide to do a longer or full-length workout after all. If I forced myself into an hour-long workout every day, I’d probably be on the couch most of the time. But when my mindset is 10 minutes, it seems doable.

In the end, committing to 10 minutes of exercise is something that even the busiest of people can do. You’ll still feel a sense of accomplishment—and a lot less guilty than if you would have taken the whole day off. I know it seems like a small thing, but try it yourself. The next time you’d rather not exercise, commit to 10 minutes. You’ll be surprised at how much better you’ll feel (and how much more you’ll likely work out) when you follow through!

Are 10-minute workouts part of your fitness program? What else helps you stay consistent when you don’t feel like exercising?

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What else helps you stay consistent when you don’t feel like exercising? I LOOK IN THE MIRROR AND SEE WHAT I HAVE ALREADY ACCOMPLISHED AND IT MAKES ME MOTIVATED TO KEEP ON GOING. Report
This will really work for me because of my left knee that needs an knee replacement it is very difficult to do some exercises with 20 to 30 minutes at a time but I can do at least 10 minutes without so much pain thank you. Report
wonderful suggestion. Thank you Report
This is so extremely true! It really is actually getting me going that takes the most effort, and I actually enjoy it once I get started, but ESPECIALLY as it is becoming winter time, I really don't want to leave the nice comfy bed/couch/apartment. If I just tell myself...I'm only going to do a short amount of time, it really does end up lasting much longer. Great post! Report
This article was actually amazingly helpful. I often end up telling myself that 10 minutes isn't "worth it" in the exercise stakes, but I'm now seeing that that is very silly! Doing 10 minutes is surely better than doing nothing! Report
I can only agree.

I set a goal for myself to do at least 10 minutes of cardio each day and it is true: most of the time I do more than the minimum because once I'm running/bking/swimming I can just as well do another 5 minutes. And then get to the next even kilometer count. And get to the next even 10 minutes... and so on.

In my experience it also helps to do these 10 minutes not too late in the day. Morning is preferable because it pushes the energy level and because that is a time where I can put in another 10 (20, 25, ...) minutes if I feel like it. Report
I had heard this concept before but never really have put it into practice but I'm going to start today and as one other person stated, I too am going to make it a spark goal to do at least 10 mins of exercise every day. Even on days when I am having horrendous back pain, I know I can at least do 10 mins of yoga (or whatever I can do) which won't seem so daunting of a task as getting through 30-60 mins. I was feeling rather down that I had only worked out 2 days this week so far but because of that dang crippling pain have skipped some. The 10 mins will keep me feeling on track and hopefully help the pain too! Thank you for posting this. Report
This worked for me, today. I've been doing 60 mins. every day, but today...I just couldn't muster it. I was going to skip it altogether, but I decided to just do 15 mins., and I feel so much better about myself than if I'd skipped completely. Report
Great article! I'm sure it will inspire many just like me.Some days ready to go for it, other days don't feel like it. Report
this is probably the best thing I've read so far. I used to do cardio for a minimum of 1 hour and as I try to return to a real commitment to fitness I felt that if I couldn't devote that amount of time it wasn't worth it. As a result a lot of days I didn't do cardio because I never started. I have been going in now with just a 10 min commitment and finding myself going longer but more importantly more consistently. thank you for giving me this freedom! Report
I have never looked at it like that - I struggle a lot to exerise, partly just because I don't want to, but 10 mins seems like nothing! I think I'll try and give it ago Report
This is a fabulous idea... I have had so many days when I don't find that chunk of time for exercise, I simply skipped it. But 10 minz doesn't sound too much but really counts.. Thanks for the inspiration !! Report
I think this article is so fabulous .It is such a motivator.I have wasted 10 minutes doing nothing many many many times.Thank you thank you so much! Report
I like the idea of fitting in an "extra" 10 minutes. I already exercise 30 minutes per day 5-6 days per week but apart from that block I spend a lot of time sitting down. I think adding in an extra 10 minutes--just a walk down the lane to enjoy the flowers, really--is something worth adding to my October goals. Report
This is helpful. I'm totally uunmotivated right now, but 10 minutes seems do-able, and I know from experience that, like the article said, the 10 will motivate me to do more. Report
A good idea indeed, I get myself to walk up the stairs (I live on the 7th floor) and on a semi regular basis walk up the whole14 stories, up one side down the other back to my flat on the seventh, for some reason I can't explain I am happy to do this, where as the thought of exercise for the sake of exercise thrills me not, I also have an empty nail box to do step-ups on (I convinced myself it's good practice for doing the up and down the steps thing, this, coupled with sensible eating has seen me lose 14 kilos to date, from 104 to 90 kilos and I don't feel like I'm on a diet or that I'm doing execerise's. Report
I'm able to get in at least 10 minutes every day. I do 10 minutes of pilates because it helps my back. If I'm feeling like I can do another workout after that then I'll switch it up and do something more.

On days when I go to physical therapy I get to do 8 minutes on a bike and sometimes some on the treadmill, though last time that was way too high impact. But on top of the bit of aerobics I do about half an hour of strength training.

But then there's some times when I get in massive amounts of exercise because it doesn't feel like work. Like this weekend, Fri-Mon, I burned over 4000 calories because I was walking almost constantly, dancing and doing other fun stuff. Though I have to say my feet and muscles were hurting a quite a bit by the time Monday came around. Report
I use this type of tactic on myself all the time. I'll get started and my initial goal will be 10 minutes. Once I get to ten minutes I think "I am feeling good. I'll just make it 20". Very often I'll just keep adding 5 minutes until I've worked our for 30-45 minutes. Report
As a stay-at-home-Mom to a VERY ACTIVE 1-year-old boy I have been really lapsing with my fitness and food tracking, but I really love the idea of 10 minutes! Report
This is great advice and so true. I made one of my spark goals to do 10 minutes of exercise everyday. Now I usually don't go without doing at least 30 minutes each day! Report
this is really good advice. I just started a job at night and I am wiped out most mornings (I still have to get my husband and son out the door in the morning). I am so tempted to just go back to bed when they are gone, but since reading this I figured I can move my nap back ten minutes...which I know from experience is gonna give me some energy to get a few things done (maybe even a longer workout). I can nap later. Once I get used to my new schedule, I KNOW I'm going back to my full workout, but for now, ten minutes is a good thing Report
This is great advice! And it sounds so much more "doable" for me...with my hectic schedule with 5 kids. It doesn't seem like much so I have found that I will do nothing instead of at least doing what I can. This really helps me see that "a little's alot if it's all you got! " Report
I told a co-worker the same thing the other day that kept giving me excuses as to why she can't keep up with her treadmill routine (she set it up). I told her to just do 10 minutes. She responds by saying, "But, I normally do 30 minutes or more. I just don't do 10 minutes." I told her that was fine, but that she should focus on doing just 10 minutes because she would probably keep going once she was already on the treadmill. I'm not quite sure she got my point. Report
I actually commit to just 5 minutes. When I'm really tired, even 10 minutes sounds like so much work.

Once I get going, I think "well, I'm already dressed for this, I'm starting to wake up, I might as well keep going"

That turns into, "Oh, yeah, I forgot - this does feel good!"

Which turns into, "Let's see, I lifted 17.5 lbs last time, let's try 20 lb (or I rowed for 2 minutes, let's try 3 minutes)"

Which turns into, "Go, girl! You can do it!"

And by the time I'm done, I've lifted more than the previous day or did a harder level of cardio for longer, or at the very least, completed my workout and am feeling the "buzz". Report
yeah i do something really similar. i don't commit to a length of time but i am required to do something "active" every day. some days it's just playing billiards with my friends but at least it burns calories and keeps being an "active person" on the top of my mind. and, like the author said when i do something so truly nominal as billiards it makes me take the rest of my workouts more seriously that week. Report
I've been doing this for at least a year now. I have arthritis of the spine and cannot exercise for long periods of time. Rather than give up on exercise I started doing ten minutes at least three times a day, most days of the week. This works really well for me. Report
This is a good idea for me because I have this mental block about changing my clothes--that it's not worth it for only a short work out. And I agree, once I get going I usually do more. The committment is key, make it part of every day. Report
This is a fabulous idea. I am going to change the way I view exercise. I am going to commit to 10 minutes a day (at least) Report
inspiring. thank you. Report
I agree, once you get started it's hard to stop the great momentum. Great read! Report
I am not a gym-goer... I do stuff on my own at lunchtime at work and at home (videos, treadmill, jog around the neighborhood, etc.)... but I find that if I can even put in 10 minutes earlier in the day, I find it easier to complete my desired 60 minutes a day.

But on my "Idonwanna" days, I still feel better even if all I can get in is a 10-15 minute walk or something! Report
Yes, yes!! I agree with this article. Even on the most hectic days, 10 minutes can be worked into the schedule. (I suppose I could give the kids apples when we get home and just delay dinner by 10 minutes - or 15- on those days when I don't get my workout done in the morning.) Report
What a good read! 10 minutes are doable & I can get that in several times a day. Great to know I'm doing okay by doing it that way! 30-60 straight minutes seemed mountainous to me!!! Report
My old job had a gym. I use to go for a quick 15 minute work out at lunch. I felt this was better than nothing. When I switched jobs I didn't have the gym and soon started to gain weight. Now I start the day with at least a 10 minute work out. If I can fit in another full work out in the day then it's bonus but at least I have done something. Report
Great idea, lsince the #1 reason people state that for not exercising is no time. I agree 10 minutes are manageable.

I set the TIMER and that way i know that it was 10 minutes. Report
Great article! 10 mins is definitely doable and like you say, once you're in your gym clothes and already feeling good about doing some exercise, you're definitely going to be more prone to continue for a longer session. Thanks for the tip. Report
This is a great idea. I can do a 10 minute walk or mini workout on days that I just don't feel like doing anything due to pressure, stress, not enough time, etc. This is motivating me...thanks! Report
This is a great article. There's many days when I don't exercise, but I know I could fit 10 minutes in. I look forward to more helpful suggestions. Report
What a GREAT article. And perfect timing. I'm going on vacation in October and have been freaking out over "working out" (We'll be in Africa and there isn't a gym on the safari!) I'm taking exercise bands and I'm sure I can find 10 minutes a day for them and it will be so heplful for when I get home. I was so scared to fall off the wagon sop to speak. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!! God Bless. Report
Committing to 10 minutes a day has really helped me step it up. I usually keep going once I get started. Report
This is great advice for me, especially now that school is back in session and I'm finding it really difficult to hop on that exercise bike for 50 minutes a day, or even 30! Report
What a great idea. I've always been an all or nothing girl and not just about exercise. I can certainly see this approach working for me on a number of levels, especially because I'm trying to get back into a regular routine. Plus I understand one can several stints of 10 minutes a day, and they add up. Definitely will give it a try. Report
I started with 10 minutes a day & worked up. Unless I'm feeling really bad I still do at least 10 minutes every day. Most days, tho, I'm doing more than that be-
cause exercising has helped me lose weight & feel better! Report
I try to do some form of exercise every day, I go to Curves 3 or 4 days a week(because I pay for Curves it motivated me to be consistent with my attendance) & do a walking video at home and just recently started adding weights to that. Last night I did Nichole's 15 minute body ball workout and was surprised at how many muscles it uses!! I will probably do this 3 times a week also. Wow, all this from a person who hates to exercises Report
This is a great strategy!! When I don't feel like working out, I just put on my workout clothes. Then, it's like: Well, I'm already dressed for it, so I might as well... Report
The 10 minute rule is great. I have followed it for months and usually 10 minutes leads to more. A 10 minute walk is a short one. Precede it with stretches and a couple weight bearing exercises and you have a routine! Report
I agree! For me, getting started is the biggest hump of the battle. I most always feel great after exercise, though I usually detest the thought of it, and even the act of doing it. Yesterday, I had a few extra minutes before work. When I get there early, I usually walk the neighborhood... that gets 10 minutes gone right away. I looked at my clock and only had 8 or 9 minutes. I was tempted not to go. For what?! To sit in my car and wait for the boss?! So, I shortened my walk and went anyway. Got 7 minutes in, planning to get some more exercise later. That didn't happen, but I did get 7 minutes in, which counts for something, just like you said! Thank you for the encouraging article! Report
It makes sense - I'll give it a try! Report
Good tips...maybe this will help me! Report
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