Short and Sweet - Can 10 Minutes Make a Difference


Tammy George

Woman on treadmill in gym, illustrating the effectiveness of a 10-minute workout for cardiovascular health and fitness.

When leading a busy life, there are times when we can’t fit in everything. We may have the best intentions to make healthy choices in meals, sleep, and exercise, but it doesn’t always go to plan. Exercise can be one of the first things to fall by the wayside because we don’t have a spare hour to drive there and back after a 50-minute session. But a time-efficient workout could be the answer to not dropping your workout entirely. We may not have all the time in the world, but we can adjust and set 10 minutes aside to get the benefits needed. 

The Science Behind 10-Minute Workouts

Research has shown that health benefits are possible by maximising efficiency with short bursts of intense exercise. Short bursts of exercise daily can provide more health benefits than one long session per week. One long exercise session may get a person to pace themselves so their body doesn’t get the cardiovascular benefits of intense, vigorous exercise. Also known as micro workouts, intense workouts can also increase endurance and help with better weight management. 

The popularity of these short energy explosions has increased significantly, and now people add them to the end of a group class, gym, or strength training session to get the heart rate up and enjoy the health benefits of multiple forms of exercise.  
Best of all, these short workouts can be done anywhere, including at home. Short workouts grew in popularity during the pandemic when people couldn’t visit their gyms and had to exercise at home with limited equipment. 

But if you're not into the intense type of workouts, don't worry, 10 minutes of focused, daily movement can also bring you significant benefits. Read on and find out how

The Role of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is an interval training protocol that alternates between high-intensity movements that significantly increase the heart rate to at least 80% of a person’s maximum heart rate, followed by short periods of lower-intensity movements.

The Physiology of Short Bursts of Exercise

Explosive movements, including sprinting and jumping, for high-intensity bouts up to 30 seconds long, alternating with lower-intensity recovery periods, provide meaningful cardiovascular and metabolic responses. Effectively, maximum results with minimal time spent doing exercise.  

How 10 Minutes Impacts Metabolism and Fat Burning

Just ten minutes of high-intensity exercise daily can help a person lose weight. High-intensity interval Training (HIIT) exercise can reduce abdominal fat, possibly due to excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). HIIT exercise may also increase muscle size in people with a higher body weight. 

A study found that fat metabolism may improve after four weeks of HIIT and can continue improving. Fat burning won’t just occur during the 10-minute high-intensity training; after 12 weeks of HIIT, every minute of physical activity can burn an additional 0.13 grams of fat. 

Pre-Workout Essentials: Setting Yourself Up for Success

The most success comes with some preparation before and after training. 

Fueling Your Body: Nutrition Tips for Pre-Workout Energy

Nutrition is essential to train at your peak and see results from the workouts. Such intense exercise means your body needs the right fuel. 

Protein builds muscle mass, and the more muscle you have, the more fat the body can burn. Whether you eat animal or plant-based protein, or both, the less processed and more organic, the better. Think about the whole "package", as protein sources also contain fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, sugar, sodium, additives, and other components.

Foods that are known to be high in protein include lean meats, such as chicken, beef, pork, and turkey; fish; some dairy products (but be careful with the added sugars in these); legumes, such as beans, peas, and lentils; eggs; nuts and seeds, quinoa, and non-GMO soy products, like tofu and tempeh. 

Protein isn't the only important factor regarding nutrition to maintain a healthy weight. Opt for the "good" fats, including unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids, which you'll get from avocado, nuts and seeds, olive oil, and dark chocolate. These are key to boosting your energy and keeping you satiated for longer. And don't leave carbs aside. Not all carbohydrates are healthy, and while you definitely don't need that sugary cookie, whole fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, and tubers, which are high in fibre, will help you stay active throughout the day, provide vital nutrients, and keep your body functioning at its best.

Last but not least, drink plenty of fluids, especially before and after an intense workout.  

Man preparing a healthy post-workout meal in the kitchen, showcasing the importance of nutrition after a quick workout session.

The Importance of Dynamic Warm-Ups

Dynamic warm-ups increase flexibility and help warm up muscles and joints to prepare for exercise. Dynamic stretches take joints through their full range of motion, preventing injuries. Some popular dynamic warm-up exercises include arm circles, hip circles, lateral lunges, leg swings, high knees, and chest stretches.  

Mental Preparation: Getting the Right Mindset

High-intensity workouts require mental readiness. Not many people can get their heart rate to 80% of its maximum capacity if they aren’t focused and fully committed to the activity. Make an effort to concentrate fully on the workout for the 10 minutes. Your body and mind will be grateful.

Breaking Down the Workout: What to Expect

To benefit the most from HIIT workouts, try incorporating exercises that work on cardio, strength, and flexibility throughout the week. Consistency is key, and committing to daily practices can allow you to see long-term benefits, including weight loss, increased or toned muscle, more stamina, and a healthy heart. 

10-Minute Workout for Beginners: A Gentle Introduction

It’s easy to think there's no chance a 10-minute workout can cause an injury. But don't prove yourself wrong. The high intensity of the workout means you get injured if aren't cautious, and this starts by not skipping the warm-up to prepare your body for vigorous exercise.  

During the first few sessions, especially if you haven't exercised for a while, you may want to ease yourself into your new workout plan by not reaching 80% of your maximum heart rate and maximum effort. Also, you don’t want to make it so unpleasant that it makes you quit after the first day!

And once again, pair your exercise plan with balanced meals throughout the day; besides nurturing your body, it can also help you stay motivated!

Tailoring the Routine to Beginner Fitness Levels

If you are embarking on creating new healthy habits or returning to exercise after an injury, start slow and listen to your body - there's a difference between pushing yourself and feeling your muscles working and stepping over the physical pain your body may be experiencing.

Basic Exercises for Strength and Cardiovascular Health

A few easy but intense exercises include: 

  • Jumping jacks
  • Jabbing left then right by punching across your body
  • Squats

To get your heart pumping, try: 

  • Push-ups
  • Sit-ups
  • Side lunges
  • Jumping jacks

For improved strength:

  • Burpees
  • High knees
  • Mountain climbers
  • Alternating lunges
  • Squats

You can work out by only using your body weight, and there are plenty of exercises to do so, but if you are happy to incorporate some equipment into your routine, grab a kettlebell, some weights, a staircase, or some bands. These can elevate your 10 minutes to another level.

Couple walking in the park, representing enjoyable outdoor exercises for beginners and couples as part of a 10-minute workout routine.

Making Time: Incorporating a 10-Minute Morning Workout

Some people will only exercise in the morning because they believe it has greater health benefits. Others feel that working out later in the day or at night is best. The good news is that neither camp is right or wrong. The best time to exercise is the time that suits you and when you’re most likely to make it happen. 

Benefits of Starting Your Day with Exercise

A morning workout can provide a range of health and life benefits. Exercising in the morning can give you an energy boost and reduce fatigue, making you feel energised throughout the day. After you have got the heart pumping and the blood circulating, you may enjoy better focus and concentration for the rest of your day. What’s more, the feel-good endorphins can help with a positive outlook and set you up for a successful day. When you spend precious time in the morning exercising, you’re more inclined to follow up with healthy food choices for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For many people, especially those with children, getting up earlier than other family members is the only way to guarantee exercise without interruptions.

Overcoming Common Barriers to Morning Workouts

People are more likely to skip a morning workout when they’re tired and want a little extra shut-eye. But the easier you make your exercise routine, the more likely you'll stick to your best intentions. Try some of these:

  • Pull out your workout clothes from the wardrobe the night before and place them in easy reach of the bed. 
  • If you head to work straight from your workout, pack your lunch and work clothes so you can grab and go. 
  • Set your alarm and place it on the other side of the room so you have to get out of bed to turn it off. 

The Benefits of Finishing Your Day with Exercise

In the past, exercising at night was frowned upon by some because it could "interfere with getting a good night’s sleep". However, a study has found that you only need to avoid vigorous exercise one hour before bed to enjoy a restful night’s sleep. Some people exercise at night to tire themselves out, so they fall into bed and fall asleep quickly.  

Exercising at night can help some people switch off from work and de-stress. With endorphins floating around their body, they go home to their family feeling positive from a workout and not stressed about their day at work.

For some, mornings are hectic, filled with getting kids to daycare or school or getting themselves to work. They prefer to exercise later in the day when they have fulfilled their family and work obligations and can dedicate time to themselves.  

Are you ready to experience the transformative power of 10-minute workouts? Commit to consistency, take the first step towards a healthier lifestyle, and reclaim control over your fitness journey today! And remember, with our Healthy Lifestyle Cover you can access extras that prioritise prevention, ensuring a healthier you while contributing to better benefits and lower premiums for all members.

Tammy George

Please note: Tammy's blog is general advice only. For further information on this topic please consult your healthcare professional.


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