How long do we need to exercise for? Can we break exercise into smaller, more manageable chunks? Can you reap the same benefits of running through HIIT, which takes way less time?
For the sake of this article, we are defining microdosed exercise as a routine that lasts 5-20 minutes long, and includes all exercise intensities.
Short bouts of exercise are becoming more popular as our lives are getting busier. Committing to one hour in the gym can be difficult, but we all have 10-20 minutes/day to reap some benefits of exercise.
So what do we need to do in this short time frame? Can we actually benefit from a short bout of exercise? Do we need to go all out, or can we pace ourselves?
Microdosing exercise in day-to-day living may reap benefits depending on your goal and where your current level of fitness is.
For example, if your goal is to strengthen your knees or functional ability, taking the stairs instead of the escalator could be a beneficial way to microdose exercise to strengthen your legs and functional ability. But is it enough for legitimate results? Is taking the stairs going to replace an hour in the gym? If you are going to use a microdosed routine, prepare to increase your physical activity throughout the day. Then, let microdosed exercise address specific needs you have.
Microdosing exercise in this way is better addressed through knowing the difference between Physical Activity and Exercise.
Physical Activity is any form of movement that elevates your heart rate and produces stress on your body. This can result from taking the stairs, running after your kids, playing a sport/game or doing yard work.
Exercise is a planned, regimented plan to address specific needs of your body and do a specific physical activity over reps, sets, and designated rest periods.
Microdosing exercise by arranging small periods of time throughout the day will lead to specific benefits.
For example, arranging 5-10 minutes twice a day to stretch, perform Physiotherapy exercises, work on isolated, small movements, can be beneficial.
If you have pre exisiting injuries or just starting to exercise, then a micro-dosed form of exercise is best. It is also a great way to build the habit of exercise if you have a hard time committing to an hour of exercise on a daily basis. It is better to exercise for 10 minutes a day then skip an hour at the gym on a daily basis, but the goal should be to increase performance and use microdosing as a stepping stone. Or, supplement microdosing with physical activity throughout the day.
Who should do this exercise regiment?
Those looking to begin exercise, maintain moderate fitness levels and those with busy schedules.
For example, a student who is attending class and studying should set aside time to stretch, lift weights, maintain fitness levels and maintain their own health and performance. Taking breaks to get up from a seated position is also extremely important, as it leads to bad posture and can be a precursor to chronic pain. A pair of exercise bands in your bag to perform curls or provide resistance for postural exercises is great.
What does a Microdosing Exercise Regiment look like?
As exercise is so seldom and short-lived in this regime, we need to perform it at a higher frequency to reap benefits. A daily basis of moderate intensity microdosed exercise would be recommended to build exercise habits, maintain or begin fitness levels and keep your muscles pliable.
- F – Frequency: Daily basis.
- I – Intensity: Moderate Intensity.
- T – Time: 5-20 minutes.
- T’ – Type: Cardio, Weight Lifting, Mobility.
Can you still do large, compound strength movements on a daily basis that only take 10-20 minutes to perform?
This is a great question.
For larger, high-intensity movements, we need more rest for them. In this scenario, I would recommend strength-specific training 2-4 days/week and not on a daily basis.
Performing one movement repetitively will lead to some strength gain. But it will follow diminishing returns if you do not change it and add additional exercises on top of it.
Microdosing exercise would be most beneficial for those starting exercise habits, maintaining fitness levels, mobility, cardiovascular efficiency and are willing to increase daily physical activity outside of an exercise routine. A HIIT routine would be a great example of a beneficial exercise routine that would fall within 5-20 minutes long.
Microdosing exercise is a great way to start exercise and get you thinking about increasing physical activity. Building the habit of committing to 10 minutes of exercise/day will give you the courage and energy to increase your exercise and reap even more benefits. Microdosed exercise will then serve as a stepping stone to a future, stronger you.
If you will try this regime, make sure to increase your physical activity throughout the day to reap some cardiovascular benefits too!
If you need help, look at my Moderate Intensity Interval Training workouts and they will get you started on the right foot for becoming a stronger, happier you.