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7-minute workout is interval training

Yoga planking

The "plank" is one of 12 moves in the 7-minute workout, which also includes jumping jacks, wall sits, push-ups, abdominal crunches, step-ups onto chairs, squats, tricep dips, high-knee running in place, lunges, push-ups with rotations and side planks.


Ask people why they don‘t exercise, and they are liable to say they don‘t have time.

So, exercise scientists set about crafting a short but beneficial workout. They wound up with a dozen high-intensity intervals they call “The 7-Minute Workout.”

Carol Sames, PhD, an exercise physiologist who directs the Vitality! Fitness Program at Upstate, is a fan of the workout because it can be adapted to people of various abilities, it can be done in the home, and it‘s a good substitute for people who say they cannot fit in the recommended weekly 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise.

“This workout is about interval training, which has been around for years, but just packaged slightly differently,” Sames explained. Each of the 12 exercises takes 30 seconds and is separated by 10 seconds of rest. One circuit takes 7 minutes, and ideally, people would repeat the circuit two or three times, extending their time commitment.

She said the 7-minute workout can be helpful. It can increase muscular fitness and aerobic capacity, improve the body‘s insulin use and burn calories at a higher rate than lower intensity exercise, which can help shed fat.

It‘s not for everyone, however.

The intensity is likely too high for people with high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease, or for someone who has been sedentary or is significantly overweight. It may also be too much for those with significant osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Adaptations can be made in the selection of the specific exercises to reduce the intensity.

The 7-minute workout can be used as supplementary training to improve aerobic fitness and strength in athletes or for someone who is training for a distance run.

The 7-minute workout is better than not working out.

“If you just want to improve some cardio and strength,” Sames said, “you get a lot of bang for your buck in 7 minutes.”

How much exercise do you need?

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that most healthy adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week.

Is the 7-minute workout for you?

Upstate exercise physiologist Carol Sames, PhD, said to ask your health care professional if this workout is appropriate for you. If so, start slowly – perhaps by lengthening the amount of rest between exercises – and modify the moves as needed.

Hear an interview on this subject by visiting www.upstate.edu/healthlinkonair and searching “7-minute.”

This article appears in the spring 2015 issue of Upstate Health magazine.