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Too Tired for a Full Workout? Try Just Seven Minutes

Some people manage daily morning workouts or after-work routines, but for those with erratic schedules or who struggle to stay consistent, there’s an alternative path to staying active.

Even if you know how important it is to a healthy lifestyle, it’s challenging to figure out where to squeeze in regular physical activity. Some people have the discipline to get up early for a daily workout each day or have worked out an after-work routine. But for those whose schedules are more erratic or who struggle with keeping a regular exercise routine, there’s another option: seven-minute high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week—many people forget about that second option. A weekly 75 minutes works out to just under 11 minutes a day if you go all-out. But you can start small with seven-minute workouts if you struggle to do much of anything. They’re time-efficient, can be done anywhere, don’t require any equipment, and offer cardio fitness benefits supported by research. One study even found that 15 minutes of high-intensity exercise—the equivalent of two seven-minute workouts daily—had metabolic benefits for up to three days in overweight males.

What They Involve

Most seven-minute workouts involve a single exercise done for one minute with a 10-second break between each one. Some, however, change it with a longer set of fewer exercises or shorter sets of more exercises. Few have more than ten to 11 total exercises squeezed into that time. Another advantage of these is that you can mix and match them. Try out several different ones and then find your favorites targeting other parts of the body. Then, you can consider doing two daily, one in the morning and one in the evening, focusing on different goals.

You could focus on high-intensity cardio in the morning to start the day and wrap up with abs and glutes or a yoga or pilates stretch workout. Some workouts are explicitly for beginners, and others are specifically low-impact, with no jumping for those who need to be cautious of protecting their joints. Once you find the ones that fit best with your needs, goals, and lifestyle, the possibilities for creating your customized schedule are endless. And with each lasting only about seven minutes, even those whose work shifts change from week to week can find a way to fit the workout around work and other responsibilities.

How To Get Started

Fortunately, the 7-minute workout has become so popular that there’s no shortage of resources for them. One of the most popular was designed by trainer Lucy Wyndham-Read, whose YouTube workout of seven cardio and strength exercises racked up more than 100,000 million views and became a touchstone for millions who couldn’t go to their gyms during the lockdowns early in the pandemic.

Here’s a selection of several other popular YouTube options focusing on different areas, with the total length of the video in parentheses:

If videos aren’t your thing, there’s a wide range of smartphone apps for the 7-minute workout. Here are a few:

  • Home Workout - Seven by Perigee: This is free with subscription options, including an option that gives you “three lives” to discourage you from skipping days
  • Yoga Wake Up (iOS only): This has a seven-day free trial, then $6/month.

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