You so have time for that.
Things that take 15 minutes: cooling down after a hot yoga class, deciding what the eff to order for takeout, and debating the caption for your latest Instagram. Here’s another to add to that list: a workout that will actually help transform your body.
Yep, contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to go slog it out at the gym for 30 or 45 minutes. (Or god forbid, an hour.) Working out for just 15 minutes—yes, 15!—comes with a slew of health benefits, from upping your calorie burn and whipping your body into shape, to lowering your risk of certain diseases and even adding years on to your life.
Yeah, these quickie sweat seshes are no joke. Count these among your reasons to start carving out 15 minutes of your day:
1. GET RESULTS FASTER
You’ve heard about HIIT, or high-intensity interval training. There’s a reason no one shuts up about it: It really works. Most recently, researchers found that a 10-minute workout, with just one minute at high-intensity, had the same benefits as 45 minutes of jogging.
One group of study participants did a two-minute warm-up on a stationary bike, followed by a 20-second sprint, then rode slowly for two minutes. They repeated that sequence two more times for a total of 10 minutes. The other group just rode steadily on the bike for 45 minutes. After 12 weeks, both groups showed a 20 percent increase in cardiovascular endurance.
2. BURN MORE CALORIES
HIIT workouts, which usually lasts just four to 15 minutes, can also give you more bang for your buck in terms of calorie burn. In a study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, men who did 13 minutes of HIIT burned more calories per minute and increased their VO2 max by 12.5 percent more than men who did steady-state cardio for 40 minutes. More payoff in half the time? Yes, please.
3. LIVE LONGER
Just 15 minutes of exercise per day could actually increase your lifespan. Scientists from the European Society of Cardiology evaluated study participants over a 12-year period, and found that those who exercised at a low level (or the equivalent of a 15-minute brisk walk) were 22 percent less likely to die during the study period than those who didn’t exercise at all. And participants who exercised at medium and high levels reduced their risk of death by 28 percent and 35 percent, respectively.
4. MANAGE WEIGHT
The calorie-burning benefits of even the shortest strength-training bout keep coming long after you’ve left the gym. In a study from Southern Illinois University, researchers found that when volunteers did just one set of nine exercises, or about 11 minutes of strength training, three days a week, they increased their resting metabolic rate (the calories burned when just hanging out) and fat burning enough to keep unwanted weight at bay.
5. STAY YOUNG
HIIT can actually have a profound effect on aging at the cellular level. The older you get, the less efficient your energy-producing mitochondria become. But when researchers analyzed three groups of exercisers over 12 weeks—one that did high-intensity aerobic interval training, one that did resistance training, and one that did a combination of the two—they found that those who did HIIT actually reversed that age-related degeneration. Translation: Their mitochondria actually worked like those of much younger people.
6. BOOST YOUR BRAINPOWER
You know working out is good for your body, but you probably don’t think too much about how good it is for your brain, too. In fact, just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your brainpower for a short time afterward, according to a recent study published in the journal Neuropsychologia. The researchers found that study participants who rode a stationary bike at a moderate to vigorous pace for 10 minutes answered questions 50 milliseconds faster after exercising than they did before, a 14 percent increase in cognitive performance.
7. LOWER YOUR RISK OF CERTAIN DISEASES
Obviously, all exercise has health benefits. But according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, participating in 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week can decrease your risk of getting cancer or cardiovascular disease. That’s just 12.5 minutes a day.
8. STAY HAPPY
Everyone knows about exercise and endorphins.
But science actually says that just one hour of exercise per week (that’s less than 10 minutes a day) could prevent up to 12 percent of depression cases.
The study, which was published in American Journal of Psychiatry, followed more than 22,000 healthy adults who did not have symptoms of anxiety or depression for about 11 years. In the end, researchers found the people who reported not exercising at the beginning of the study were 44 percent more likely to become depressed versus those who spent one to two hours working out each week.
In another study, people taking antidepressants for major depressive disorder who pedaled on a stationary bike for just 15 minutes lowered their levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
9. HAVE MORE FUN
“High intensity” sounds more intimidating than regular workouts, but people actually enjoy HIIT workouts, a lot. When researchers compared reactions to moderate-intensity continuous exercise and HIIT workouts, they found that 92 percent of the study participants reported a preference for HIIT over the moderate-intensity continuous workout—despite the fact that HIIT was harder.
The reason they liked it better? Because HIIT is more time efficient and the workout is constantly changing on you. And, you know, the more you like a workout, the more likely you are to stick with it—the rewards will just keep rolling in.
If you want to find out for yourself just how effective 15 minutes of exercise can be, give these speedy workouts a try. Just don’t try to use your lack of time as an excuse for not working out anymore—that gig is up.