During our last monthly “Office hours” Zoom call I did what I normally do, answer questions and then ask what they’d like to see more of from me. Two members raised their hands and said “30 minute workouts”. They were brutally honest with me and said, “If I see a workout that’s over 30 minutes in your workout plan I don’t do it or find another one”. That’s how much time they have to exercise and if they try to do more they won’t be consistent. I know these two members and they have found what works for them and believe me, they are consistent!!
If you search the Be Healthy Enough Digital Fitness studio you find workouts ranging from 5 minutes to an hour. Most of my early workout videos were over 45 minutes because that’s what I thought we needed, “I have to get my hour workout in or I’m not working hard enough” is what was going through my head. I often would feel guilty if my workout videos were not longer because I wasn’t giving members enough..
I was so happy to see recently a New York Times article titled “Is 30 minutes of exercise a day enough?” pop into my notifications (I’m learning these are called “God Winks”, a great book I’m reading on the power of coincidence in our life)
My purpose in life is to help women over 50 get moving and feel better even as the aches and pains of age start to creep in. AND to help them gain consistency and knock that “little birdy” off their shoulder that keeps telling them that workouts have to be a sweaty hour long session or they won’t get results.
After reading the NY Times article you might get the idea that 30 minutes a day is enough for basic health but can you get “results” with 30 minute workouts? Of course you know what I’m going to say…IT DEPENDS. That term “results” is different for everyone and it depends on your fitness level, your injuries and what type of 30 minute workouts you’re doing.
Some members come to me saying they are stuck in a rut and I work with them to exercise for just 5 minutes for 5 days, no more no less! This consistent movement and remembering how good it feels can have such a positive impact on their motivation they end up progressing to 10 minutes then 20 and then following along with my monthly workout calendars!
There’s no denying all the positive effects from even just a few minutes of movement produces, but when it comes to seeing “results”, it is less about the quantity of your workout, and more about the quality.
For us women over 50 it means that you follow these simple rules:
- Prioritize Strength training above all else. Fit in just 2 days of a good full body strength workout and yes, it can be just 30 minutes (I currently have over twelve 30 Minute Full Body Strength Workouts in the Be Healthy Enough Digital Fitness Studio and just filmed 3 more!)
- Plan for 2-3 days of cardio, preferably HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training where you get your heart rate up there for an interval and then bring it down. This can be done by picking up the pace on your walks, finding hills or trying one of my nineteen 30 minute cardio videos)
- Focus on your core, balance or posture with a good Pilates session at least once a week
- Fill in the other days with some fun stress relieving movement
- Make movement a part of your day!
The other very important factor is when your exercise routine gets super easy, you need to make it a bit harder. This is especially true for strength training but also applies to cardio workouts. When you make your workouts more challenging over time, you place greater stress on your muscles, bones, organs and nervous systems, which helps in making the changes you need to have a strong resilient body that is healthy enough to do all you want to do in life.
The most obvious ways to make strength workouts more challenging is by adding more weight, more repetitions, changing the tempo or the amount of time you rest in between sets.
With cardio workouts you can increase the time you do a high intensity interval or follow along when I show how to make a move even more challenging.
Adding more variety is another great way to challenge your body. I know when I’ve been doing the same workout routine for a while and try one of my older ones or design a new one, it’s amazing at the different muscles I feel. That’s why in my Monthly Workout Calendars I mix it up a lot! Yes, you could do my basic strength training workout every time but when we mix things up a bit our bodies have to work harder to adapt, forcing more changes to occur.
The absolute key here is to make it realistically challenging. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, while not doing too much too fast. Going harder in the ways you can, while making sure you maintain good form and range of motion. Doing enough to challenge our bodies so you can come back for the next workout!
In general I think the answer to the question “Is 30 minutes of exercise enough?” is YES In fact, I think 30 minutes is a sweet spot. More than that can lead to not feeling your best and worse, not being consistent. And that is how you get results; stay consistent, do the right type of exercise for women over 50, make it more challenging as you get stronger AND listen to your body and stop (or reach out to me) if anything hurts.
For more fitness and nutrition advice in your 50s and beyond, make sure to read the articles from Be Healthy Enough’s Healthy Tips.
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