On any given day we can think of dozens of reasons not to work out: It’s too cold outside, we don’t want to drive to the gym, we’d rather be catching up on Girls before the new season starts, or, you know, whatever. All perfectly valid reasons in our book, but the one excuse that we don’t buy is not having enough time. Yes, we’ve all said we don’t have time to work out. And true, not every day allows for an hour at the pilates studio, not to mention the time to drive there and back. But surely, most days you can squeeze in a workout if it will take less than 30 minutes. (Especially if you don’t have to leave your own house to do it.)
In a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers found that you only need 75 minutes a week of vigorous activity to lessen your chances of getting cancer or suffering from cardiovascular disease. Which means you don’t have to hit the gym every day for long, intensive workouts in order to be healthy. But being the busy girl you are, you are going to want to get the most bang for your workouts, which is why we’re sharing our favorite workouts that you can do in 30 minutes (or less!) while still getting major health benefits.
1. Women’s Health 15 Minute Workout
Time: 15 minutes
Why: It’s a little crazy to think that you can get a really good workout in less than 30 minutes, but the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that 15 minutes of resistance training was just as effective at boosting participants’ metabolism as 35 minutes. Studies have also shown it’s easier to stick to a plan if you only have to commit to 15-minute sessions.
How: Women’s Health wanted to take advantage of these findings and create 15-minute workouts that should be completed four to six times a week. So still at most, only an hour and a half a week! The workout plan focuses on body-sculpting resistance training and increased calorie burn. And there are only two moves to master: squats with hand weights and chest presses with hand weights. 12-15 reps of each and you are done. The steps are illustrated here.
2. Jumping Rope
Time: 10 minutes
Why: Your favorite schoolyard pastime makes for a pretty solid workout. Just 10 minutes of jumping rope equates to a 45-minute run according to the British Rope Skipping Association. And if you move quickly, a half hour of skipping rope can burn up to 750 calories. Why is it such an effective workout? Because you use your abdominals to stabilize your body, your legs for jumping, and your shoulders and arms for turning the rope. Hello, whole body workout! It also helps improve heart rate and blood pressure, is less taxing on joints than running, and helps improve coordination and balance.
How: There are plenty of fitness instructor recommended jump roping routines available online, but you should only jump rope at a pace you are comfortable with. This workout is perfect for people who have tiny apartments or travel a lot. A jump rope is a very small, light piece of workout equipment you can use anywhere to sneak in a little cardio.
3. Yoga Studio App
Time: 15-30 minutes
Why: We all need a little more Zen in our life. And the fact that yoga not only helps us mellow out but also gets us in shape is why we love it so much. Especially when we are crunched for time and desperately need to relax! But what’s not stress-free is rushing to a yoga class after work or trying to find studios that are in our budget, which is why downloading the Yoga Studio App is such a lifesaver. When you download the app you’ll have access to over 24 hours of HD video yoga classes that range from 15 minutes to an hour. There are over 280 poses with detailed instructions and advice, which is important since you won’t have an instructor there to direct you.
How: There are over 65 classes to choose from based on your experience level, how much time you have, and your focus. The areas of focus include strength, flexibility, relaxation, balance, or a combination. If you have the best intentions when it comes to working out but conveniently “forget, this app will be your new fitness best friend! It allows you to schedule your choice of class on your calendar so you don’t forget. And for the $4 cost of the app, you will save a lot of money by skipping the studio and staying home. Plus no one will witness you wobbling in tree pose.
4. The Scientific 7-Minute Workout
Time: 7 minutes
Why: In the time it takes to nuke a frozen lasagna in the microwave, you can complete The Scientific 7-Minute Workout. Straight from the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal, this workout is built up of 12 exercises that utilize your body weight, a chair, and a wall. By the time the seven minutes are said and done, you’ve completed the equivalent of a long run and a visit to the weight room.
How: Be warned, it’s not a fun seven minutes, but you’ll be done before you know it. Download one of the many free “7 Minute Workout” apps and allow it to guide you through the exercises until you’ve memorized them. Each exercise should be performed in rapid succession allowing 30 seconds for each set. The speed is important not only for the quality of your workout, but so you can finish fast.
5. POPSUGAR Fitness
Why: If you get bored by workouts easily (really who doesn’t!) then YouTube will be an oasis of variety for you. But if you don’t want to sift through literally thousands of fitness videos, finding a channel you can trust is going to save you a lot of time and frustration. To save you even more time, we’ve found the perfect channel.
How: The POPSUGAR Fitness channel has hundreds of workout videos to choose from, including a playlist with dozens of 30-minute workouts. And with videos as short as two minutes, you really have no excuse not to squeeze in a little fitness before work or even during Scandal commercial breaks. Our favorite is this fun 25-minute cardio dance workout.
6. Dirty Yoga
Why: Dirty Yoga is calling your bluff and for the sake of your wallet, you won’t want to skip their workouts. You can stream their videos via a subscription for as low as $20 a month (new videos stream every week). But once that week is over the videos are gone. And if you didn’t watch a video you are out of luck. No one says it better than they do: “This is exercise. You’re not supposed to save it for a rainy day. You’re supposed to do it. Regularly. Every week. So use it or lose it. The same goes for your body.”
How: The Dirty Yoga workout is more focused on getting in a really good workout than, say, finding your inner peace. They offer yoga workouts that hit strength, flexibility, stability, stamina, and balance. You’ll need a yoga mat and a set of light weights, and then you are ready to get to work!
P.S. — Once you’re finished, here’s what to eat after a workout to make the most of your exercise!
For more workout inspo, check out our day with Kelsey Wells:
What’s your favorite quickie workout?
This article was originally published on January 15, 2017.