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Maintaining Your Fitness Level in a Time Crunch: The Surprising Benefits of Short Workouts


Feeling overwhelmed and struggling to find the time and energy to stick with your usual workout routine? This is the blog for you.


I understand that life can be hectic and that it can feel like there are never enough hours in the day to get everything done. But I want to reassure you that when it comes to maintaining the fitness level you’ve worked so hard for - even a little bit of physical activity can make a big difference when you’re in a time crunch.


A recent paper published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research examined the minimum amount of exercise needed to preserve aerobic fitness, muscle size, and strength in an 8-32 week time frame. Here's what they found:


  • To maintain aerobic endurance, intensity (exercising heart rate) is key. You can achieve this with as little as 2 workouts per week or by reducing the duration of each workout by 33-66%. So if you typically do a 40-minute cardio workout, cutting down to just 13-26 minutes can still provide benefits.


  • For strength and muscle size, intensity is again the key factor. These fitness markers can be maintained with just 1 strength training session per week and 1 set per exercise as long as the intensity is maintained or increased. This is true for both younger adults (ages 20-35) and older adults (ages 60-75). For the latter group, training twice a week and doing 2-3 sets of each exercise can help maintain muscle size.


It's important to note that these recommendations are based on research with mostly general populations and did not focus on the minimal dose of exercise needed to maintain body weight, body composition, health status, or other physiological adaptations like bone mineral density and insulin sensitivity. As always, it's a good idea to consult with a qualified healthcare or fitness professional before making any changes to your routine. They can help you determine the right frequency, volume, and intensity balance for your specific needs and goals.


But the most important thing is to stay active and consistent. Every little bit of physical activity positively impacts your health and well-being. So don't let a busy schedule or other challenges hold you back from maintaining the fitness level you've worked so hard to achieve. Keep moving, stay motivated, and you'll be on your way to feeling your best.


 

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