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.
So did it work? Here’s what I learned during my 30-day quest to becoming a little more fit and active.