Get Started Exercising on a Tight Schedule with the 7-Minute Workout

8084682666_5244eb9f50_bWe write about fitness quite a bit here at ProfHacker. I must confess, though, that until quite recently I was all excuses. Beginning in grad school and through my first post-grad-school job, I was far, far “too busy” to work out. I had excuses every day—writing, teaching, grading, and family—all good priorities, to be sure, but none that truly took over my life so as to make exercise literally impossible. I fell out of the habit, and over a decade lost any will to do it. But my reticence had real consequences. I gained (unnecessary) weight, for one, but more importantly I lost stamina and energy. I started to feel far older than I should.

Recently I resolved to begin amending this oversight. I wanted to feel better and to have some of that energy back. Plus, as my fellow ProfHacker writers have shown, there’s plenty of evidence showing that regular exercise helps us think more clearly, and I definitely needed to think more clearly. But where to begin? I dislike running, though I know many greatly enjoy it. I used to swim in college, but my train commute to work would make that difficult now. Plus I needed to start modestly and build up.

What worked to get me me exercising regularly was the 7-Minute Workout. In short, it’s a set of simple exercises, requiring no equipment, that you perform in rapid series. They work out different muscles and (I can attest) get you sweating quickly. As you get stronger, you can attempt more reps, so the 7-minute workout becomes 14- or 21-minutes. The official (and also free) app is very well produced and provides many alternative workouts when the basic exercises begin to seem too rote.

Why did this work for me? Here’s why I think it did:

  1. It was cheap. Well, it was free, meaning I didn’t have to sink money into a gym membership or home equipment I might never use.
  2. It’s very structured. The app tells me just what to do and for how long, like being in a class (without actually going to a excercise class, which I would never, ever do)
  3. It requires very little investment of time, at least initially. It’s easy to say “I don’t have an hour to go to the gym”; it’s very hard to say “I don’t have 7 minutes to work out at home.”
  4. My brief workouts did show results. I found myself moving through the exercises with more ease, adding another rep, and then building until I could add another. I began to (slowly) lose some weight and, more importantly, I did begin to feel better and regain some of my energy.
  5. Using this workout segued into more confidence about exercise and helped me make it a habit. Eventually I joined a gym and I actually use my membership, which I wouldn’t have done had I started by joining a gym.

The 7-Minute Workout is no miracle cure and your mileage may well vary. I’m sure had I continued doing only one rep of the core exercises I would have soon seen diminishing returns. However, this workout proved a great way to get exercising again, and I still use the standard workout or one of the many workout variations in the application on many days when I can’t make it to the gym. In short, if you’re looking to start exercising, or add some variety to your workouts, I would encourage you to give the 7-Minute Workout a try.

How about you? Do you have an exercise routine that’s worked well with your busy academic schedule? Tell us about it in the comments.

[Creative Commons licensed photo by Flickr user HJ Media Studios.]

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