Why The Minimalist Workout Has It All Wrong

You really only need to exercise for 10 minutes a day. No, actually, it’s just 7 minutes. Unless you don’t have that kind of time, and then 4 minutes will do the trick.

It seems like every month I read another story about how little time it takes to actually get fit. Just a few minutes of super-intense movement (running, cycling, swimming) and you’re good. Your body will be as fit and healthy as if you had been running for 90 minutes. Your blood pressure will be lower, your blood sugar will be steadier, and even your endurance will improve.

These minimalist workout findings are amazing. Getting as fit in 4 minutes as you do in 90? Wow! Who knew bodies could do that? It’s encouraging to know that there are fewer and fewer excuses to not take care of your body. (Don’t have time for a 4-minute workout? Yeah, right.)

But as cool as it is to know that I could be fit in just 4 minutes a day, the 4-minute mindset is missing one of the major points of being active: namely, being active exercising is fun. It’s not something you want to rush through. It’s not something to “get out of the way.” It’s something to look forward to doing, and then to savor while you’re doing it.

That’s because being out on a run or going for a bike ride isn’t entirely about keeping your blood pressure in check or fighting the middle-age spread though those are worthy goals and powerful motivation it’s also about clearing your mind and cleansing your soul. I don’t know if they’ve done any research on how long it takes to do that effectively, but I’m pretty sure it’s longer than 4 minutes.

I applaud these recent studies and may even have a go at some high-intensity intervals every now and then, just to switch things up. But I know that going at that pace for even a short period of time isn’t going to be any fun. In fact, it’s almost guaranteed to be painful. And if we’re trying to encourage sedentary people to get moving by pushing them to the point of pain, we’re not going to win many converts with the high-intensity mindset.

So take things a little slower, take time to savor the feeling of moving, take as much time as you need to find the joy and the peace and the fun in being active. Because it’s there. You just have to give it time.