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clip art of a man in workout clothes drinking out of a water bottle with the landscape of a city behind him.

The Greatest Wealth is Health

By Melissa Haug 

If you find yourself skipping your workouts regularly because you can't find 30 minutes or more in your busy day, you've just run out of excuses!

The Journal of the American College of Nutrition has new research indicating that several short bouts of exercise can provide the same fitness and weight loss benefits as a continuous longer session.

The study evaluated overweight, female college students who agreed to follow a calorie-restricted diet for 12 weeks. After completing an exercise test and being weighed and measured, the women were divided into four groups: a control group that didn't exercise, a group that exercised for 30 minutes continuously, a group that exercised for 15 minutes twice a day, and a group that exercised for 10 minutes three times a day. The exercising women exercised three to five times per week, and all study participants were monitored for weight loss and heart rate.

The women who exercised in 30-, 15-, or 10-minute sessions experienced similar increases in oxygen capacity and decreases in weight, whereas the women who didn't exercise did not experience substantial changes in oxygen capacity or weight. As a result of these findings, researchers concluded that several short exercise sessions provide similar fitness and weight loss benefits as a single continuous session.

Here’s a 10-minute routine that not only strengthens your abs and core, but also will help jumpstart your body in preparation for your daily activities! It targets big muscle groups such as the chest, glutes, and quads.

0:00-0:30 Pilates Push-up: Targets biceps, triceps, chest, upper back and core. Begin in the up phase of a push-up. Hug your elbows to your sides and bend them straight back, lowering your body until you’re about 5 inches from the floor, keeping abs firm, neck long and hips lifted. Hold for a count of 3, and then straighten your arms to return to a starting position.

0:30-1:30 Leg Lifts: Targets abs and engages back muscles. Lying flat on your back, place both of your hands underneath your body just above your buttocks, palms down. Keeping your legs as straight as possible with your knees and ankles together, slowly lift to 45 degree angle then lower your legs until about 5 inches from the floor. Try not to touch the floor. Think about pulling your bellybutton to your spine. Do for a 20 count two times.

1:30-3:00 Wall Slides: Target quads and glutes. Stand one pace away from the wall and press your back into the surface. Slowly bend your knees to 90 degrees as you slide your back down the wall. Hold for 20 count. Stand up and repeat twice more. Working up to holding for 40 seconds and then a full minute.

3:00-4:00 Crunches: Targets abs. Lying flat on your back with knees slightly bent and hands positioned either behind your head or across your chest, crunch up toward the ceiling, pulling your belly button toward your spine. Remember to focus your eyes on the ceiling and restrain from pulling on your head (keep your head in line with your spine). Perform a set of 20-25 crunches to a two count (two counts up and two counts down).

4:00-6:00 Inner-thigh lift: Targets inner thighs and glutes. A) Lie on the floor on your right side, head resting on the right hand and legs extended 45 degrees in front of you. Place your left foot on the floor in front of your right thigh and grasp the left ankle. Raise the right let to hip height, inner thigh reaching toward the ceiling and foot flexed. Do 8 lifts, then circle leg 3 times. B) Roll onto your stomach and place your forehead in your hands. Lift legs off the floor and “clap” your heels together 30 times. Roll on to your left side and repeat entire series.

6:00-7:00 Repeat Crunches
7:00-7:30 Repeat Push-ups
7:30-8:30 Repeat Leg Lifts
8:30-10:00 Repeat Wall Slides

If you have more time for this routine, you may try holding exercises for a longer counts or increasing the number of repetitions performed.

Just think, if you do a 10 minute routine before your first cup of coffee in the morning and before you prepare yourself for bed you’ve already done 20 minutes of the recommended 30 minutes a day. Now, do you think you can find 10 minutes somewhere else to squeeze in a mini work-out? No excuses, go hard, and get results.

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The Greatest Wealth is Health (pdf)