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The 7-Minute Workout That Could Add Years to Your Life

Brett Kilka and Chris Jordan of the Human Performance Institute recently developed a high-intensity circuit training (HICT) workout regimen that can be done in seven minutes and requires only a chair and your body weight. They revealed details about the routine in the May/June issue of the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal.

Home exercise equipment and gym memberships are often expensive, and frequent travelers know how difficult it can be to get to a gym when on the road. In fact, the American Heart Association says that only about 20 percent of Americans are getting the recommended 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week.

The lack of time and money are the most common excuses why people don’t exercise, but with this new fitness routine, the excuses are running thin.

Not a Fad Workout

HICT is highly regarded as a fast and efficient way to burn fat, but it isn’t a new fad workout requiring expensive equipment. It uses a person’s own body weight for resistance while incorporating a series of quick exercises you probably already know. The modern form of HICT was first developed in 1953, and research supports the benefits of these quick, intense workouts.

“There’s very good evidence” that HICT offers “many of the fitness benefits of prolonged endurance training but in much less time,” Chris Jordan told The New York Times, where he also defined "high intensity" as an 8 on the discomfort scale of 1 to 10.

“Today, using body weight as resistance during circuit training may grow in popularity as financial means to special equipment and facilities access have declined for some,” the developers wrote in the journal article. “Body weight can provide an adequate training load as long as it results in sufficient aerobic and resistance training intensities.”

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The Workout: 12 Common Exercises

Kilka and Jordan designed the following set of exercises to be done in about seven minutes with only 10 seconds of rest between each exercise. Each exercise should be done for about 30 seconds.

The 12 exercises should be done in the following order:

  • Jumping jacks
  • Wall sits
  • Push-ups
  • Abdominal crunches
  • Step-ups onto a chair
  • Squats
  • Triceps dips on a chair
  • Planks
  • High knees/running in place
  • Lunges
  • Push-ups and rotations
  • Side planks

These exercises were chosen because they work the whole body and select muscle groups one at a time.

While this workout won’t be enough to ready you for the Olympics, doing it once a day is a quick and simple way to get your body ready to do battle in the modern world.

“The practicality and accessibility of HICT using body weight as resistance makes this exercise program a viable option for the masses. Individuals who previously believed that they did not have the time for exercise can now trade total exercise time for total exercise effort and get similar or better health and fitness benefits,” the paper concludes.

To be on the safe side, consult with your doctor before beginning any new workout, especially one this intense.

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Health Benefits of Warding Off Stress

Regular exercise is not only important for keeping the body functioning at its best, but also as a way to ward off obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and the other dangerous health effects of a stressful, sedentary life.

Stress in modern living is as common as smart phones. Attempting to juggle careers, family, and a social life often leave people at wits end. Accumulating stress can do lasting damage to the body, including speeding up the aging process, increasing fatigue, and perhaps even bring about disease.

Recent research out of Tel Aviv University published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology shows that on-the-job stress can increase a person’s risk of developing type-2 diabetes. Researchers studied 5,843 employees for 3.5 years and found that those with large amounts of occupational stress—separate from other risk factors—were 18 percent more likely to develop type-2 diabetes.

The detrimental health effects of stress and an inactive lifestyle aren’t going away any time soon, but Kilka and Jordan’s quick, intense workout can lower your risk of chronic disease.

Seven minutes, after all, isn’t much time if it extends your life by years. 

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