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Can a 7-minute workout get you fit?
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From left to right: Sondra Hines, Angela Monk and Everlyne Malit perform the wall sit, part of a seven-minute fitness routine that includes 12 individual exercises, or circuits. (Photo: Courtesy of Sondra E.Z. Hines)

Sondra E.Z. Hines

Quick. How many things can you accomplish in seven minutes?

If your list includes push-ups, the plank, stepping up on a chair and crunches, you’re on the way to becoming fit.

At least that’s what some new research concludes.

In the May/June issue of the American College of Sports Medicine's Health & Fitness Journal, researchers suggest that seven minutes of high intensity interval training (workouts that alternate periods of high-intensity exercise with low-intensity recovery periods) is all one needs to get fit.

Oh really?

“There’s very good evidence” that high-intensity interval training provides “many of the fitness benefits of prolonged endurance training but in much less time,” Chris Jordan, co-author of the study, said in a New York Times article. Jordan is director of exercise physiology at the Human Performance Institute in Orlando, Fla.

The study found that, unlike traditional aerobics, high intensity circuit training (HICT) offers several advantages: (1) promotes strength development for the entire body, (2) uses large muscle groups to create appropriate resistance and aerobic intensity, (3) creates a balance of strength throughout the body, (4) can be immediately modified to increase or decrease exercise intensity, (5) is easily doable within a small training space, (6) can be done in most environments (e.g., stairs, benches, walls, etc.) and (7) the various exercises, or circuits, can be arranged to accommodate individual fitness levels.

According to the researchers, each circuit should last 30 seconds with a 10-seconds transition period between each. Total time for the entire workout is approximately seven minutes and, if desired, can be repeated two to three times.

To test this seven-minute workout, I tried it twice – once at home and once during one of the aerobics classes I teach. I followed the researches’ prescription by incorporating the suggested 12-station HICT, with no equipment (except for a mat) and relying only on my body weight:

Here are the circuits I used:

1. Jumping jacks (works entire body)
2. Wall sit (works lower body)
3. Push-up (works upper body)
4. Abdominal crunch (works core muscles)
5. Step-up onto chair or steps in home/office (works entire body)
6. Squat (works lower body)
7. Triceps dip on chair (works back of arms/shoulders)
8. Plank (works the core muscles)
9. High knees/running in place (works total body)
10. Lunge (works lower body)
11. Push-up (works upper body)
12. Side plank (works the core muscles)

Pros: My heart rate and intensity level increased, especially performing jumping jacks and push-ups. (My class moaned when we did the wall sit, a great exercise to work leg muscles.) The circuit is flexible and can be done at home, at work or in a hotel when traveling. The workout was succinct and ideal for people without much time.

Cons: If done incorrectly, the plank and the squat could lead to an injury, sore back, etc. (Be sure to stretch and warm up before you start.) Participants may become too eager and add repetitions too soon. (Listen to your body. I suggest four to six weeks before adding repetitions.)
Overall, I rate the seven-minute workout a B+ and will likely use it again to mix up my fitness routine. I may even use it again with some of my students.

To read the study, click here.

Until next time, I wish you good health, joy and wellness!

Sondra E. Z. Hines, is an adjunct professor of health & wellness and is certified to teach group fitness and Zumba. Her column is published each Wednesday on Qcitymetro.com. Email: sondraezhines@yahoo.com.
Editors Note: For more health & fitness content, visit www.qcitymetro.com/health.

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October 9, 2015
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