Got Only 20 Minutes to Work Out? Use It to Add Years to Your Life.

Got Only 20 Minutes to Work Out? Use It to Add Years to Your Life.
 

It was a crazy day at work, you’re meeting up with your friends later, and now you have less than half an hour to squeeze in some exercise. At that point, you’re wondering: Will a workout that short be just a waste of time?

Not by a long shot.

In fact, a single 20-minute session of exercise can stimulate your immune system and strengthen the anti-inflammatory defenses your cells use to fight off conditions like arthritis, fibromyalgia, and obesity—in other words, it can keep you stronger, thinner, and all-around healthier.

That’s the deal from a new study by researchers at the U.C. San Diego School of Medicine, who put 47 healthy volunteers on treadmills and found that just 20 minutes of running at a moderate pace raised the level of proteins that boost the immune system by 5%.

“Our study shows a workout session doesn’t actually have to be intense to have anti-inflammatory effects. Twenty minutes to half an hour of moderate exercise—including fast walking—appears to be sufficient,” said senior author Suzi Hong, Ph.D., in a press release. The fact that a workout doesn’t have to be superlong—or kill you, effort-wise—to benefit your body can make exercising more often a less-bitter pill to swallow, especially if you’re just starting out or in less-than-great shape.

“Feeling like a workout needs to be at peak-exertion level for a long duration” can seem intimidating, says Hong, when the truth is “each time we exercise, we’re truly doing something good for our body.”

So the next time you spy a free 20-or-so-minute window in your day, supercharge your immune system with one of these totally un-boring aerobic workouts.

Not bad for something you can do in less time than it takes to watch the new cat fails compilation your mom just tweeted.