Pretty much everyone knows someone who is constantly going to the gym, training for a marathon, or eating a kale salad for lunch after an intense morning workout. Unfortunately for my health, I am not that person.
I am the person who loves to sleep in, considers stretching to be legit exercise, and refuses to buy a pair of running shoes (why bother, when they’ll never get used?). I’ll eat the kale salad, sure, but forgo the morning workout.
But I don’t want to be this way. As most adults know, exercise is an important part of being alive and healthy — and even my lazy ass can recognize that my sedentary lifestyle isn’t ideal. So I decided to try the lowest of low bars and see if I could work out for seven minutes, every day, for 30 days straight.
The “seven-minute workout” first made news back in 2013, when an article in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal claimed a short, high-intensity interval training- (HIIT) based workout with 12 varying movements could be just as effective as a longer, less-intense session. The New York Times Magazine picked up the concept and branded it “The Scientific 7-Minute Workout,” and a short-workout movement was born. Proof: the endless amount of HIIT fitness DVDs and classes out there today.
Back then, my exercise ambitions peaked at a ballet class I made it to every other week, and truthfully, I didn’t give working out a second thought. Nowadays, however, I’m feeling less invincible than I used to. After a trip with my friends where they bribed me with gelato to do a daily five-minute workout with them, I was finally intrigued enough to try it on my own. After all, even I should be able to exercise for less than 10 minutes. And that’s the idea.
“A lot of the time when you think about exercise, you think of a class that’s going to be an hour long, and an hour is intimidating,” Brett Klika, a personal trainer and the author of 7 Minutes To Fit, tells me over the phone. His book — and method, which draws upon the ideas posited in that now-famous ACSM article — is meant to make working out feel slightly more accessible.
Of course, seven minutes isn’t technically enough exercise, even if you do it daily (sorry to burst your bubble): The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, per week for overall cardiovascular health. So 49 minutes a week, even at high intensity, is hardly going to cut it. But if you’re a total non-exerciser like me, starting with something small and manageable helps you ease in, Klika says, and that can lead you to bigger and more intense workouts.