I recently came across this New York Times article titled “Can’t Do the 7-Minute Workout? Neither Can I.” It’s a good article, but I was immediately put-off by the title. I wondered why.
It bothered me because I feel it gives the message that it’s OK if you can’t do a 7-minute workout. With our 6-second attention span, folks might read the title and miss the very important sentence underneath it— how to make it work for you. They could possibly conclude that “if the NYT writer can’t do it, then I’m not even going to try.”
But the key to success is you have to TRY. You have to get started.
We know all too well how tricky it can be to overcome the inertia and get started with making change, in any area of life. Any labor of love that’s worth it requires stick-to-it-ness. It’s the one ingredient you’ll always need for the journey and can take you farther than any other quality alone.
I personally think the 7-minute Workout is genius, and understand that it can be difficult. According to the NY Times article, the goal of the 7-Minute Workout is to exercise four parts of the body—cardio, lower body, upper body and core—in that order, as hard as you can, for just 30 seconds, followed by five seconds of rest. The workout is designed to give you the maximum health benefit in the shortest possible time.
In the seven minutes, each of the four muscle groups gets to work out three times. The key is to stick to the sequence so that each muscle group has nearly two minutes to rest before being challenged again. You have to understand this thinking behind the workout in order to modify it to fit your own body’s strengths and limits.
So, how do you start on a 7-minute workout when you’re putting it off because it’s too hard?
You make it super easy.
It doesn’t have to be one of the 30 7-Minute Workout apps on the market, or the gym. You can be your own personal trainer and be strong and in shape in your own home, apartment, yard, pool, neighborhood, parks— and doing something that you enjoy and keeps you motivated and on track.
If all you do at first is march in place and stretch for seven minutes, you are better than you were yesterday. Even if you walk your dog for a full seven minutes, or move your booty for 2-3 songs on your playlist (approx 7 minutes), every day there will be improvements to your body and well-being.
A cinch way to begin is to create a plan that includes attainable steps around the type of exercise goals you have. For example, do you want to increase strength and overall physical fitness? Or is it for weight loss or disease prevention? Perhaps it’s a combination of things.
Start small and commit to doing 7 minutes of walking for exercise three days this week. This will help you establish behaviors and create the habits you want to have in place to keep at it.
Here are the four different types of exercise, how they benefit the body, and what kind of activities you can do to get started:
- Aerobic: Improves the fitness of the heart and lungs. Examples include walking, swimming, tennis, biking, running and dancing.
- Strength building: Increases muscle power and strength. Examples include lifting weights, climbing stairs, hiking, push-ups, sit-ups, and heavy gardening, such as digging and shoveling.
- Balance or stability: Strengthens muscles and improves body coordination. Examples include core-strengthening exercises like planks, hip raises, Pilates and tai chi.
- Flexibility: Aides muscle recovery, maintains range of motion, and prevents injuries. Examples include yoga or individual muscle-stretch movements.
Strength WILL happen and you’ll begin to see the health benefits—for example, being able to walk up the stairs without getting winded. But remember to eat right, as what we put in our bodies is the beginning of how we are able to have the energy to do anything for 7 minutes!!
Working exercise into your routine takes a lot of determination, and sticking to it in the long term requires discipline.
It’s important not to set unrealistic expectations for a 7-minute workout.
Seven minutes of exercise per day isn’t a magical elixir that will completely transform your body, but it is a great way to get your heart pumping and burn calories all day long when your schedule is full and you’re pressed for time.
It’s easy to see “instant” success stories and overlook all the years of sweat behind them. Working your butt off is still the best way to make change happen—and make a difference. Remember the saying, “the race goes not only to the swift, but to those who keep running.”
If everyone moved for seven REAL minutes—however they can—it would be a game changer. Say you stretched for seven minutes/day. How ’bout if you can walk or dance for seven minutes a day. ANYTHING. Make it your own. Remember the PE workouts we did in elementary school? Yup. We all did arm circles. 😖
The best 7-minute workouts are the ones we’ll actually do.
I love you. Move that booty and keep at it.