15 Minutes a Day to Total Fitness

By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness

January 1, 2016

  • A New Year’s tip that can’t be beat
  • 15 minutes a day to total fitness
  • The quick and fun way to get started

Getting and staying fit is on the top of everyone’s list these days. But, by far, one of the biggest problems I hear is that there’s just not enough time in the day to get into a regular exercise routine.

So I’ll bet you’ll be glad to hear that there’s a way to achieve total fitness – a robust heart and lungs, strong muscles, superior brain power and a slender physique – in as little as 15 minutes a day.

All it takes is for you to start up your very own high intensity interval training (HIIT) program. This type of exercise routine gets your heart and lungs pumping, delivers more oxygen-rich blood to your brain and other organs, builds real muscle strength and boosts your fat-burning capacity.

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Depending on your current level of fitness, I’d say you should dedicate between 15 minutes and a half hour toward it each day.

Now, getting started is simple. (Just be sure to check with your doctor before starting any type of exercise program, especially if you’ve been sedentary for years and are de-conditioned…you may want to start with shorter times.)

HITT involves short bursts of high intensity exercise followed by short recovery breaks in between. And it doesn’t matter what condition you’re in to start with.

For example, after warming up for a few minutes, walk briskly or sprint as fast as you can for 30 – 40 seconds. (Whichever one you choose is based on your fitness level. If you can’t sprint, don’t. If you can, then go all out. The idea is to push yourself, but not beyond your capabilities.)

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Then, follow it with 2 to 4 minutes of easy walking. Repeat 4 to 6 times. The workout ends with a 3 to 4 minute cool-down.

As it becomes easier, try increasing the intensity and shortening your rest time. (i.e., a 30 second full-out burst, followed by lesser and lesser minutes of easy walking.)

It’s also a good idea to start doing squats as soon as possible. These work the largest muscle groups in your body. Building strength in these muscles not only helps to stabilize your entire body, it also helps you burn fat faster.

To properly execute a squat, place your feet hip-width apart with your hands behind your head. Squat at the knees, using your upper thighs and abdomen for strength… and remember to keep your back straight. Hold for the count of five, and then rise back up into standing position.

If you’re unable to perform an unassisted squat, you can work your way up to it by performing squats with your back against the wall or with your hands placed on the back of a stable chair, table or counter. I actually placed handicapped wall assist bars in my office for some patients and wound up using them to hold onto doing morning squats. Only squat as far as comfortable until you build up your strength.

Use the same HIIT principal to perform squats: Do 10, 15 or 20 of them, then rest for a few minutes. Repeat 4 more times.

Once you’ve mastered these two concepts, you can add in some activities that will work your entire body. For example, here’s a routine that I really enjoy, especially when I have someone with me who can add a challenge.

If you don’t have a lot of strength, you’ll need an empty can or plastic bottle. If you’re relatively fit, a 3 to 5 pound weight will work.

Take the object in your right hand. Bend your arm at the elbow so that your upper arm is flush to your side and your hand is next to your ear. Push your arm forward to throw the object as far as you can. Then, race toward it quickly (a brisk walk or sprint, whatever suits your fitness level.)

Stop in front of the object, squat, pick it up with your right hand, rise to standing position and throw it again. Repeat 10 times, and then rest for 1 to 2 minutes. Then, perform the same exercise using the left arm to toss the object. Repeat on both arms 4 times each with rests in between.

To add more intensity, do this exercise going uphill. Rest after the first round, and then lunge your way back to the bottom. Rest again before starting back up throwing from the other arm.

This is just one fun example of an HIIT exercise. There are also more intense routines you can implement for a fat-busting, muscle-building and heath-boosting workout with lasting results.

Rottensteiner M, et al. Physical activity, fitness, glucose homeostasis, and brain morphology in twins. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2015 Mar;47(3):509-18.

Drigny J, et al. Effect of interval training on cognitive functioning and cerebral oxygenation in obese patients: a pilot study. J Rehabil Med. 2014 Nov;46(10):1050-4.

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