You’ve probably heard about new research showing that a mere 30–60 minutes of running a week— even in bursts of only 5–10 minutes a day (!)—can add three years to your life.
But here’s the less-reported yet equally awesome part: “Any vigorous exercise, such as cycling or swimming, would provide a similar cardiovascular benefit because the heart doesn’t know if it’s running or cycling,” says Duck-chul Lee, Ph.D., who ran the study reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Yes, just 5–10 minutes a day of any vigorous aerobic activity can yield huge dividends. By “vigorous” we mean working at 60–84% of your max heart rate (easy formula: 220 minus your age) or, in Lee’s words, “so you can’t say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.” Think of it as sticking around for three more Super Bowls, World Series, birthdays, and 1,095 nights of sex (hey, we’re erring on the positive side).
Sure, working out even more is better—but if you’re just getting into exercise, or having a hard time working fitness into your life, five minutes a day (see some ideas, left) is a great place to start.
Run Before Showering
Run around the block or up and down the stairs of your apartment building before showering.
Sweat During T.V. Time
Using a treadmill, spin bike, or cordless jump rope handles, ride or jump for one segment of The Daily Show or an entire Conan monologue.
Embrace Digital Fitness
Do one workout with the Johnson & Johnson Official 7 Minute Workout app, a Daily Burn video session like “5/10 in Nine” ($10/month, dailyburn.com), or a 10-Minute Trainer DVD ($80, beachbody.com).
Create a Pandora station using an uptempo tune (like Avicii’s “Wake Me Up”) and do jumping jacks or run in place for four songs.
Perform a “traveling” CrossFit WOD (needing little or no equipment) from thetravelingwod.com.
Pick a random FitDeck exercise card (fitdeck .com) and do that exercise for 5–10 minutes.
Step Things Up
Do rapid stepups on and off your porch while your girlfriend yells, “I’m almost ready!” from inside. That’ll be 10 minutes, easy.