If you find it hard to lose weight with your busy schedule, the news keeps getting better. First, just 20 minutes of exercise was proven to help increase your metabolism. Now, a study has found that working out intensely for just 2.5 minutes can spur calorie burn throughout the day — an extra 200 calories' worth.
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In the latest study, five healthy men performed sprint interval training on a stationary bicycle (five 30-second intense intervals with four minutes of easy cycling in between). Although the men were sedentary the rest of the day, they ended up burning 200 more calories during the days they did the short bout of exercise than the days they didn't exercise at all.
Even though this was a small study, the encouraging results are reason enough to add intense intervals into your workout routine. It's also good news for those of you who can never seem to fit a full workout into your day. Below are ideas on intense exercises you can do anywhere for 2.5 minutes so you too can reap the afterburn benefits. Perform these at maximum intensity; you can break them into 30-second or one-minute intervals to make it more manageable. Stick with one, or choose five to do for 30 seconds each!
- Jumping jacks. These do-anywhere moves pump up your heart rate in no time.
- Mountain climbers. This cardio move helps strengthen legs and core muscles as well. Learn how to do mountain climbers here.
- Burpees. Swiftly moving from standing to squatting to push-up position challenges all your muscles. Not sure how to do this classic move? Get instructions on how to do a burpee here.
- Running up stairs. Run up and down the stairs at home or at your office — you'll get the added bonus of a toned backside.
- Walking lunges. These lunges help you develop balance while strengthening your core and lower body. Do these briskly, but make sure your form stays correct to prevent knee or ankle strain. Here's how to do a perfect walking lunge.
- High knees: Run in place while engaging your core and pumping your arms. The goal should be to keep your knees high and maintain an upright posture as you do your speed bursts.
- Frogger: This plank-to-squat move seems simple, but you'll feel it as you do your 30-second bursts. Begin in a plank position. Jump your feet to the outside of your hands, coming into a deep squat and keeping your hands on the floor, then jump back to plank. Repeat in a quick succession (below).
- Lateral hops: Make small jumps side to side as if you are jumping over an invisible line (below).
- Jump squat: Start by doing a regular squat, then engage your core and jump up explosively. When you land, lower your body back into the squat position to complete one rep. Land as quietly as possible, which requires control (below).
- Box step: Find a step, stool, or box (or aim toes at an imaginary step) and lightly tap your left toes to the box, then jump to switch feet, bringing the right toes up (below).
Don't stop at just 2.5 minutes, though. Besides upping your total calorie burn, longer exercise helps you stay healthy and prevent disease. Aim for at least 150 minutes a week; here are five ways to make sure you hit that number.