Wednesday, June 5, 2013

10 minutes a week? For real?

A few years ago, I bought this book, and not just because I liked the cover:


Men's Health, not just for team XY anymore- 50% of this book is geared for gals!
...mostly to take with me on deployments since we had some irregular work schedules, but really I use it even now when short on time, motivation, and ideas.

It offers workout plans broken down by not only how much time you have to workout per day, but also sessions per week.  Perfect if maybe some weeks you can find 40 minutes on 3 days and then other weeks afford you 20 minutes on 6 days.  Good fit for real life, says I.  Further, Mr Murphy provides "lean body," "power," "muscle," and "complete body" routines and includes pictures and advice on how to perform all the exercises.  It's the only workout book I've kept through the years (apart from the Lore of Running, of course). 

But this workout here has always piqued my curiosity:
From Myatt Murphy's "The Body You Want in the Time You Have," page 146.
Can running 10 minutes a day, once a week, really do anything for my fitness level?  I'd love it to be true...my other hobbies of insomnia and working are always competing for a bigger share of the day :)

I pulled out an old therapeutic exercise textbook to see what the big-brained science crowd thinks about running 10 minutes a day, once a week.  Undoubtedly, it's good to exercise even if you can only arrange for this meager time slot just for the purposes of establishing good habits.


A few years go I hated this thing!
So Kisner and Colby in their Therapeutic Exercise (5th ed) tell me so many good things, among them, that a 20-30 minute session of aerobic exercise is optimal when performed at 60-70% max heart rate (based on the Karvonen formula, which adjusts target heart rate based on age and resting heart rate):


and intensity and duration of aerobic exercise should be adjusted from there.  

But what of the 10 minutes?  It is a magic number in some ways: multiple exercise sessions throughout the day (as long as each is not less than 10 minutes) are sufficient and in fact, exercising at higher intensity for shorter periods of time causes greater improvement than moderate intensity exercise for longer periods, it's not a linear relationship.  Although the American College of Sports Medicine still recommends exercising 20-60 minutes, 3-5 days per week, Kisner and Colby suggest that the frequency of exercise is less important than the intensity and duration.

I feel that if I only had 10 minutes weekly, I might forgo a run and do 2 minutes of pushups or situps a day x 5 days.  Or maybe I would do some sprints up a steep hill... I don't think 10 minutes a week is an adequate plan for me for my aerobic fitness in terms of my current level of conditioning, but there are plenty of folks who don't have a safe place to exercise, or don't know how, or are physically unable to do so, for whom a 10-minute session is a far off goal, a gift.  In fact, that's our target audience when we talk of therapeutic exercise, it's a different beast than performance.

So be that as it may, I'll save my pushups and situps and jumping jacks for my busy weeks and put off the running for a while...that's just how the real world works.