If your schedule is full or unpredictable and it’s hard to set aside an hour or more for a workout, consider this: A few shorter rounds of exercise may work just as well.
In fact, studies have found no difference between a 60-minute workout and three 20-minute ones in terms of effects on fitness, including blood pressure, insulin and other health measures.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that any amount of physical activity has some health benefits as long as it’s done at moderate or vigorous intensity.
Breaking up your exercise into smaller sessions may make it easier to hit the CDC’s suggested weekly goals for adults:
- At least 150 minutes of moderately intense activities
- At least 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity
- A combination of the moderate and vigorous exercises
Many people may be looking to get back to a fitness regimen, as physical activity levels substantially decreased amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Shorter workouts may be more appealing, as most people who exercise say they have come to prefer a flexible mix of in-home and gym sessions.
Here are three potential benefits of shorter workouts:
- You can amp up the intensity – A HIIT workout — aka high-intensity interval training — alternates quick bursts of intense activity with periods of less intense exercise. This type of approach may create a faster cardiovascular boost, among other health benefits, and help maximize your time in shorter workouts.
- How to start: Try a 20-minute HIIT workout and use the brevity of the session as inspiration to push yourself during the most intense parts of it.
- You may be less likely to skip – Ever miss your long workout because a work or family issue pops up? Shorter workouts may enable you to get in exercise without feeling forced to choose between your health and other responsibilities. You may also be able to multi-task, combining a 20-minute walk on the treadmill with evening TV viewing.
- How to start: Consider ways to incorporate a 20-minute on-demand cycling class or a guided power walk into your day to keep exercise on your to-do list — and help avoid prolonged periods of sitting.
- You may be able to renew an overall focus – Mixing short bouts of exercise may help with supporting a variety of health goals, including ones for your mental health. Emphasize balance one day, flexibility the next and core strength on another. The variety may help keep your workouts feeling fresh and encourage you to come back for more.
- How to start: Consider a 10-minute foam-rolling class for the benefits of stretching or choose an on-demand yoga class to concentrate on your flexibility and breathing.
Digital fitness technology is making it easier to access and track quick exercises. One example: The Peloton App, which is available to eligible UnitedHealthcare plan participants at no additional cost as part of their health plan benefits.*
The membership offers access to thousands of live and on-demand fitness classes across a variety of disciplines, including strength, boxing, barre, outdoor running, cycling, walking, meditation and more. With workouts ranging from five to 75 minutes, it may be easier for members to choose something that fits their schedule, whether it be a 10-minute yoga, 15-minute HIIT cardio or 20-minute dance cardio class.
Since a collaboration between Peloton and UnitedHealthcare began in 2021, eligible health plan members have been collectively completing more than one million Peloton classes per month. Among people who’ve sampled at least one class in a given month, members are taking an average of three classes each week.1
“We’re proud to see how effective this collaboration has been at encouraging many of our members to get or stay active,” said Dr. Rhonda Randall, chief medical officer for UnitedHealthcare commercial business. “It’s helping to positively impact the mental, physical and emotional health of our members across the country.”
UnitedHealthcare and Peloton have recently renewed and expanded this collaboration, potentially making more than 10 million UnitedHealthcare members eligible for the year-long Peloton App Membership or a three-month waiver toward a Peloton All-Access Membership as part of their health benefits. In addition, eligible members may receive preferred pricing on Peloton’s connected fitness products including the Peloton Bike, Bike+ and Tread.
For more information about the collaboration, visit uhc.com.
* Program available to UnitedHealthcare plan participants 18 years and older with access to myuhc.com and who enroll in Peloton’s consumer subscription offering in accordance with the Peloton Terms of Service and Membership Terms; some additional limitations or state-specific restrictions may apply. UnitedHealthcare plan participants may use only one (1) code per All-Access Membership. Please check with your UnitedHealthcare representative for more information.
1 UnitedHealthcare internal analysis, 2022
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