Exercise is essential for more than just fat-loss and toned muscles. Research shows that a minimum of 15-minutes of intense exercise performed at least five hours before bedtime can increase the production of the hormones melatonin and serotonin. Both melatonin and serotonin improve sleep quality, reduce stress, and induce physical repairs while sleeping.
However, it is consistency, rather than long-duration activity, that has the most profound effects on health. Combining these routines in two to three separate sessions every day can be the most beneficial towards long-term weight maintenance, relaxation, and health.
Opt for short but intense cardiovascular workouts created through burst training. Burst training includes sessions starting at just five minutes and work a person up to 12- and 15-minute duration cardiovascular exercise. And research shows that not only is burst training healthier for the heart and cardiovascular system, but it also reduces the stress hormones cortisol and helps better manage leptin – both key hormones in weight balance and muscle maintenance. Current research reports that long-winded cardio may actually be causing weight gain because it increases cortisol, the key hormone implicated in fat-gain.
Instead, pick an exercise, like jumping rope, jumping jacks, or running, and perform as follows (after a quick stretch):
- Perform that activity as intensely as possible for 20 seconds.
- Rest by moving slowly or shifting weight from one foot to the other for 20 seconds.
- Repeat this activity for three rounds total.
- Rest for two minutes.
- Repeat entire series of three 20/20s followed by a two-minute rest a total of three times.
For people completely out of shape, try for sessions of five seconds at first and follow the routine up by adding a second to the burst each week until the 20 second bursts maximum is achieved. Burst training sessions can be increased up to 30 seconds or even 60 seconds over a period of months. Burst training improves muscle tone, muscle response, balance, and fat burning abilities. Repeat burst training daily at a different time than other exercises for a short-exercise routine that will even fit into short 15-minute work breaks.
Focus on the Core
With less than five minutes of the day, provide startling benefits from working the core of the body. The core is defined as the back and stomach muscles which serve to keep you upright. Core muscles burn more fat and calories than the large leg muscles because core muscles are engaged all the time, except during sleep. Giving the core muscle groups just five to ten minutes of strengthening workout every day can boost weight loss or maintenance potential and improve all other fitness abilities.
Skip the sit-ups and other back-ruining exercises. Instead, opt for dance workouts or leg-lifts which engage the core trunk muscles by lifting the weight on the legs above the normal rotation pattern. A healthy and toned set of core muscles will curb fatigue, boost mental acuity, and reduce stress as a bonus to a slimmer waist and a lower body mass index.
Just the Right Weight(s)
Opt for five-minute sessions for each major muscle group for a total of roughly 15 minutes of weight training exercise three times per week. This workout should focus on the glutes (butt) and legs, arms, and upper back. All that is needed to start is a small pair of hand weights and a comfortable location. This means strength training can be squeezed in to a 15-minute work break or a 30-minute lunch break. Opt for a weight size that is challenging but not strenuous. As a bonus, body weight is effective and a maximum weight limit for weight training leg muscles. Thankfully, there are many weight-bearing exercises that use body weight and gravity rather than equipment and have the added bonus of improving balance, too.
Spend Time Stretching
Stretching is essential for a healthy body as it improves flexibility, muscle tone, balance, and reduces stress – all in one go. Fortunately, hatha yoga or ballet-type stretching routines are short and to the point, maximizing effectiveness. As little as three 10-minute sessions per week can help reduce stress and provide flexibility and balance. While daily yoga and stretching is always better, just three weekly sessions is the minimum required to effectively reduce cortisol levels and help stabilize moods.
Of all the fitness routines touted on today’s markets, most of them say little to nothing about the importance of rest. In addition to getting adequate sleep at night, taking a day off from exercise every week – or, ideally, every third day – can have profound effects on the effectiveness of a fitness routine. Do not attempt to fill in the time with other activities. Instead, the time needs to be dedicated to being a couch potato, taking a nap, visiting a spa, taking a hot bath, or other relaxing activity away from the television and mind-stimulating activities. Studies show this rest time also helps reduce cortisol levels and stress, thus aiding the body in repairing muscles tissue and burning fat stores during exercise.