A 30 Minute Workout Is All You Need If You Do It Right!
Only a very few 30 minute workouts give your body everything it needs - cardio, strength building, and stretching. So choose wisely. In a moment I'll explain which 30 minute workouts are best.
But first, is 30 minutes of exercise a day really enough? Yes! In fact, it's more than enough according to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion which recommends 2.5 hours of exercise per week - or about 20 minutes a day - based on a review of the latest research. More is not necessarily better. So let's learn to exercise smarter by working out in less time and getting more benefits.
Which 30 Minute Workouts Are Best?
The best are those that combine everything your body needs into one quick workout. Exercise science discovered that we all need 3 different kinds of exercise – cardio, muscle strengthening and stretching. Most workouts give you one or two. Sporting activities such as soccer, tennis, basketball, etc. provide cardio but not stretching or strength building. Popular fitness programs like Curves and P90X combine strength and cardio but not stretching, although Curves wisely adds stretching to the end of each workout. Very rigorous yoga methods such as Iyengar and Ashtanga combine stretching and strength building but not cardio. Which ones give you all three? I know of only 2 - rigorous swimming and mat Pilates.
I'm going to focus this article on Pilates mat exercises because they're also the most convenient. You need water for swimming, but Pilates needs no equipment or facility, just your own body. Pilates is the original 30 minute workout, and here's why it’s still the most effective since its creation 100 years ago.
Pilates is one of the most popular exercise methods. It’s famous for its special equipment, long and lean muscle development, dancer-like posture, and a focus on core strength. It's so effective that professional athletes use it and physical therapists endorse it. For these and so many other important contributions to the exercise world, I consider Joseph Pilates the Einstein of fitness.
Two Pilates Methods But Only One Offers a 30 Minute Workout
Pilates is actually two exercise methods. One involves special apparatus invented by Joseph Pilates, such as the ‘Reformer’ and the ‘Cadillac.’ The other method - the mat routine - requires no equipment, and it was actually the first method created by Joe Pilates. Apparatus came later. Interestingly, it is said that Joe first created equipment only for those who couldn't do the mat routine due to physical challenges. He created 34 mat exercises. Subsequent instructors added variations so that today the mat program includes over 50 generally accepted exercises.
Only the mat exercises provide a complete workout in just 30 minutes and here's why.
Once learned, the mat program takes only 30 minutes because no machinery is used and thus you're not pausing to make adjustments. You move from exercise to exercise without pause. You use your own body for resistance making your workout extremely efficient, adding a cardio component by maintaining that all-important 'Target Heart Rate' for the duration of your workout.
Pilates mat exercises combine cardio, strength building, and stretching - everything the body needs - in one workout. Not only that, Pilates primarily uses a particular kind of muscle workout known as ‘eccentric contraction’ which research has found to be better in terms of more strength, less risk of injury, and speedier recovery time.
Pilates also uses a special kind of stretching know as ‘dynamic stretch’ which research has found to be superior, because it results in greater range of motion in less time and with less discomfort. To top it all off, Pilates trains the mind as well as the body - there's nothing quite like it apart from the martial arts.
Pilates focuses on core strength and in particular three muscle groups ignored by nearly every other exercise method. These muscles are crucial for the relief of most back pain - the transverse abdominus (also known as the inner abdominal muscles), the inner obliques, and the iliopsoas. Studies also show that slow and controlled movement so characteristic of Pilates relieves most joint pain without causing further joint damage. This is why physical therapists prescribe Pilates exercises for rehabilitation – nothing else works as well.
Pilates For the Older Body
Pilates is particularly beneficial for the elderly population. Sarcopenia is age-related muscle loss which is a natural occurring condition that effects all of us after the age of 30. It’s estimated that we lose 2%-5% of our muscle mass each decade. More and more doctors now consider sarcopenia a greater health risk than age-related bone loss (osteoporosis). Sure, brittle bones are a serious problem leading to fractures, but what causes most fractures in the first place is a fall, and the vast majority of falls can be prevented by restoring muscle and strength with exercise. Absolutely nothing surpasses core strength for developing muscle and balance to prevents falls. And nothing surpasses Pilates for strengthening these core muscles. This is why Pilates is particularly popular among older adults.
Try Pilates today. You can begin for free by signing up at the top right. If you’re a beginner, consider yourself blessed to have discovered the best exercise method on the planet! If you already exercise, add Pilates to your workout options, because if you're like me, you'll find yourself doing Pilates more and everything else less!
About The Author
Bob is the author of several books and videos about Pilates. His 30 minute Pilates workout can be found in his ebook Ultimate Book of Pilates Mat Exercises available at Amazon. He first experienced the benefits of Pilates decades ago in his early 20's when Pilates enabled him to avoid surgery and medication for a serious back injury. Read his story here.