Looming work deadlines and packed social calendars can make finding time for a workout pretty difficult. The American Heart Association recommends either 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week, and that’s the bare minimum. Instead of looking at those recommendations as one chunk, consider breaking them into more manageable pieces.
There are plenty of ways to work up a sweat in no time, and those bits and pieces can add up. The Wall Street Journal reported findings that study participants who met the weekly recommendations experienced significant health benefits with both longer, sustained efforts as well as shorter, more frequent bursts. So even if you don’t have one big break during the day, a few minutes here and there can be just as good.
Remember, though, that quality counts if you’re going to go the short route. As fun as Zumba is, it’s unlikely that you’ll get your heart rate going all that fast in such a short amount of time. We’ve picked some of the best activities that will burn 100 calories in just 10 minutes so you can sweat it up and then get back to your crazy life. Just make sure you have a spare pair of clothes, though. Nothing ruins a mid-afternoon workout buzz like having to sit around in your sweaty clothes for the rest of the day.
1. Jumping rope
For days when you feel chained to your desk, packing a jump rope is probably your best bet. It’s compact and doesn’t require any assembly. If you have time for a break, you have time to bust out this childhood favorite to get a seriously intense mini workout. According to Livestrong, a 160-pound person burns 730 calories in an hour of skipping rope. Even when you slash that down to a 10-minute window, it’s still well over 100 calories.
In addition to slimming your waistline, FitDay reports the activity can help boost fitness and sculpt your legs. Do it a few times a day and you’ll work yourself into killer shape in no time. Fitness has a great workout to help get you started on your path to becoming a jump rope pro.
Kickboxing might sound like something that belongs back in the ’90s, but it’s one of the best ways to work up a sweat in a small amount of time. According to Glamour’s calorie calculator, a 150-pound-person can work off nearly 120 calories after 10 minutes of jabbing and kicking. It’s a good way to work off a little bit of midday aggression, to boot.
While it might sound easy enough, there are a few things to keep in mind to get the most out of your condensed workout. According to Women’s Health, proper form and breathing are necessary to execute the moves correctly. And unlike other exercises that focus on just a few different muscle groups, this is one workout that really does move your whole body. While that might leave you feeling sore, don’t shy away. WebMD explains this can actually be a good thing, because that ache is a sign that your muscles are getting stronger.
If you think you have to shell out a ton of cash to get the benefits of kickboxing, think again. Even if you don’t have a gym membership, there are tons of inexpensive videos and even online tutorials, like this one from Prevention. You just might want to lower the blinds first.
Going to the pool isn’t just good for lounging around in a bathing suit — it’s also a great way to get your heart racing. Women’s Health explains that since every stroke requires more force than the same movement on dry land, it’s sort of like cranking up the resistance. While an hour’s worth of easy swimming burns around 500 calories, according to the article, a vigorous effort will skyrocket to around 700. That means blasting 100 calories in 10 minutes is a complete piece of cake. And since it’s a whole-body workout, you can say goodbye to balancing arm day and leg day.
Even folks who prefer other forms of exercise, like running, can benefit from getting familiar with a water workout. Many athletes get hurt from time to time, making weight-bearing activities impossible. According to Shape, swimming is great for anyone recovering from an injury, because it’s gentle on joints. It can also be used as a preventative measure to keep from getting hurt in the first place when incorporated into an otherwise high-impact fitness regime.
If you’re confused on where to begin, Men’s Fitness featured a great workout designed by coach Gregory Kincheloe. Hop in and start building your endurance today. Just don’t forget a towel.
4. Elliptical trainer
Calling all treadmill haters: There’s another piece of equipment at the gym that’s nearly as effective. According to Livestrong, a 150-pound person will burn 386 calories in 30 minutes. That translates to about 128 calories in a 10-minute time frame. The same person will likely expend a bit more effort by pounding the pavement, but not by much. Women’s Health explains that the extra energy from lifting your feet off the ground gives running the edge, but increasing effort and intensity on the elliptical can help overcome that shortcoming.
Even if you’d rather lace up your shoes and hit the nearest trail, it’s a good idea to keep the elliptical in mind if you have knee problems or need to recover from a stress-related injury. The Mayo Clinic reports that exercising on the elliptical has the same force as walking, not running, on the treadmill. Since they’re reversible machines, you can also switch directions to work out other muscles.
If you’re already a gym junkie, you’ve probably used the elliptical trainer plenty of times. Keep in mind many people make mistakes that lead to sub-par results. Prevention reports everything from keeping the resistance too low to repeating the same workout can keep you from maximizing your calorie burn. As long as you use maximum effort and keep your emotional investment on that television show low, you’ll be blasting fat in no time.
You may have goofed around on the racquetball court before, but it might be time to start looking at this game a little more seriously. A 150-pound person can easily shed 680 calories in an hour of intensive playing, according to Livestrong. That means 10 minutes can torch about 113 calories, making this a stellar way to exercise if you’re ultra-competitive.
Make sure to have the right gear, though. Women’s Health warns players to always wear the proper eye protection. While goggles might look dorky, they look a lot less ridiculous than an eye patch.