Twenty Two Minutes A Day? That's It?
Last updated: March 2022
Did you know that the CDC recommends getting 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week? Getting this amount has a ton of benefits, including lowering the chance of certain types of cancers and halting the progression of conditions like osteoarthritis and, wait for it, type 2 diabetes.
I’ve heard this recommendation before, and in my mind always broke it down into five, 30-minute chunks. Although that sounds pretty reasonable, a story I heard on the radio recently made 150 minutes a week sound even better to me, and I thought you might want to hear about it, too.
Get this: 150 minutes of exercise per week equals about 22 minutes per day of movement. 22 minutes a day? Doesn’t that feel manageable? That's one episode of Friends on Netflix! Totally doable!
How to incorporate 150 minutes of exercise per week
The story I heard suggested doing 10 minutes of cardio (more on that in a second), eight minutes of strength training, and four minutes of stretching each day. Again, that all sounds pretty manageable to me, but here are some of the ways I’m working on integrating this into my life and how you can make it work for you, too.
1. High-intensity interval training (HIIT)?
Use that ten minutes to perform some high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Research suggests that this type of exercise is just as beneficial, and sometimes more so than regular slow and steady aerobic exercise done for a longer period of time.
HIIT means pushing yourself hard for a short period of time, say 30 seconds, and then going slowly for a minute or two. You can do this with walking, rowing, swimming, biking, or anything else you enjoy. Always talk to your doctor before you start a program like this, and push yourself hard for you, not for an Olympic athlete.
2. strength training?
Strength training can simply be bodyweight exercise like squatting into a low chair and standing back up, lunges or push-ups on your knees. If you do enough reps, you’ll most certainly feel it (which means it’s working!).
Stretching is a basic yet often forgotten form of exercise that will keep you limber and help prevent injuries when you’re doing those two other kinds of work out I just mentioned. If you're not sure where to start, you can look up simple stretches online.
Other ideas for exercising throughout the week
You don’t always have to break up your exercise into these three sections, of course. One particularly cold day I simply jogged around my coffee table while the TV was on for my 22 minutes. Perhaps it wasn’t a Pinterest-worthy workout, but I felt good about checking the box for my movement time that day.
Maybe you’d rather take a 22-minute walk one day, strength train for 22 minutes the next day, and do a 22-minute gentle stretching yoga class online the third day. It's totally flexible; you make it work for you.
Oh, and another thing I love about this: You can break 22 minutes into even smaller segments and fit them in anytime. One morning I did 10 minutes of HIIT in my bedroom while my daughter was asleep (much to the chagrin of my still-trying-to-sleep husband), then I did eight minutes of strength training and four minutes of stretching later in the day.
You could also walk for 11 minutes on your lunch break and do 11 minutes of something else when you got home from work. Or play soccer for ten minutes in the backyard with your kids and then stretch for five minutes and then lift weights for seven minutes. Or...well, you get the idea.
The possibilities are endless, but the exercise session is not. It’s only 22 minutes, and I bet you can find time for that.
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