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Why Working Out for Just 30 Minutes Will Make You Happier

You’ve heard it before: Regular exercise can do wonders for both your body and mind.

On paper, working out regularly sounds like a fantastic idea. You’ll look better and feel better; you’ll become a new person. But life gets in the way — job, family, sleep, etc. Suddenly, you just don’t have time because you have priorities far more important than trekking to the gym.

For those of you short on time, here’s some motivation: It only takes 30 minutes of exercise to induce the benefits of a workout. And for a little extra motivation, those 30 minutes will have a positive impact on the rest of your day.

Not yet ready to move priorities around? Let me explain.

The Value of a 30-Minute Workout 

A lot of people mistakenly think that in order to get the full benefits of working out, they must spend hours sweating it out at the gym — not true.

New York Times bestselling author Gretchen Reynolds wrote a book on the matter entitled “The First 20 Minutes.” The book explains that the highest level of health benefits come in the first 20 minutes of physical activity because that’s when the brain reacts to trigger important health benefits — benefits that help you work toward a more productive and energetic day.

Specifically, the benefits of a 30-minute workout include:

An increase in productivity: The more you exercise, the more your body will produce ATP, a chemical your body uses as energy. This increase in energy will result in a boost to your overall energy level, mental output, and productivity throughout the day.

An increase in happiness: It only takes 20 minutes for the brain to produce endorphins, which cause that exercise-induced rush of happiness. In addition to endorphins, working out also triggers neurotransmitters, such as dopamine — the “feel good,” mood-boosting chemical.

Enhanced immunity to stress: Within 20 minutes of exercise, the brain has also recognized your increased heart rate as stress. To protect itself, the brain releases a protein called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), which protects you from current and future stress.

A reduced risk of depression: Recent studies show that exercise can be used to reduce depression. This is partially due to the BDNF protein, which not only protects the brain from stress, but also from emotional disorders, such as depression.

As you can see, all of these benefits begin to tie together — happier people are often more productive, people who aren’t easily susceptible to stress are less likely to be depressed, etc. Other benefits that tie into exercising regularly include:

  • Boosted sleep quality.
  • An improved sex life.
  • A reduced risk of disease.
  • Prolonged life.
  • Improved weight control and body image.

Tricks for Fitting a Small Workout into a Busy Schedule

Even after knowing the benefits of a quick workout, it still takes a good amount of dedication and self-discipline to develop a regular workout routine. Here are a few tricks to get yourself into that routine:

  • Don’t overthink your workout: Oftentimes, people get overwhelmed trying to plan their workouts and end up spending more time and energy planning than exercising. Avoid this by starting simply and going for a quick run. Another option is to let someone do the thinking for you at a fitness class.
  • Cut down the commute: Instead of wasting valuable time booking it to the gym, get workout equipment for your house. You’ll spend the time you would be commuting actually working out.
  • Hold yourself accountable: It’s rare for busy professionals to miss an appointment, yet when it comes to exercise, flaking out is no biggie. Treat your workout like an important appointment. Even up the ante by making appointments with friends or hiring a personal trainer.
  • Put your workout clothes next to your alarm clock before bed: If you wake up to your gym clothes staring at you, begging you to work out, it’s a lot harder to find an excuse to skip.

The Busier You Are, the More Important Exercise Is

If you’re a member of the overworked and overwhelmed, these benefits are especially valuable to your daily grind. Think about it: Reduced stress and improved productivity are almost tailored to those of us who have a lot to do every day and not enough time to do it.

It may seem like you don’t have time to exercise, but think about it this way: The 30 minutes you take out of your day to exercise are always given back to you in increased energy and brain function. In the long run, those 30 minutes will save you time while simultaneously improving your mood.

With those kinds of benefits, life has run out of excuses to make you miss your workout.

  • http://www.ebog.me/ ebog

    It sounds great. Because I’m quite busy so did not have time to exercise at the gym. Now I have peace of mind because they can spend what little time I have to practice much more beneficial to the enhancement of personal health

    • FX Marino

      You don’t even have to do it all at once. It is a good idea to raise your heart rate but the most important thing is to just MOVE.

  • Nguyen Hoang

    first i wanna thanks to you for your post. Now, i have struggle in my mind! first i read one topic they said that our muscles need 48 hours after workout to rest and rebuild, but now you said we should workout 30 minutes per day. which one is true routine i should follow? Thanks

    • FX Marino

      Hi Nguyen,
      It is important to give yourself recovery time, especially if you are doing strength training. However in this post I am mainly referring to aerobic activity. I like to think of it as simply moving. Move for 30 minutes and you will benefit greatly. So the answer to your question is both. If you are doing strength training, where you take your muscles to exhaustion, rest that muscle group for 24-48 hours. The 30 minutes of movement is great on a daily basis. I find interval training the best. Start with a 5 min. walk, run or jog for 2 minutes, walk for 3, run for 2 etc. repeat this until you reach the 25 minute mark then cool down for 5 minutes – boom you are done!

      • Nguyen Hoang

        thank you!

  • Anders Hasselstrøm

    Hello,

    Good and practical advice. Make sure to make it a routine to work out. Put your running shoes next to the bed and promise yourself that each morning when the alarm goes off you have exactly two minutes before you have to be on the street running. Run for 15 minutes and you are on your way to an awesome day.

    Best,
    Anders

  • http://www.danerickson.net/ Dan Erickson

    Great post on something I believe in, but need to get back into. I’m currently sick with a cold, but will get some better exercise soon.

  • Paul Eno

    awesome !

  • miw

    Counter top hot & cold water dispenser is the most impotance

  • http://rpsmiles.com/category/latest-news Del Mar Dentist

    Great post! I always thought that you need to sweat at least two hours every day to have an effective workout but you changed my mind on that. Is there a specific workout that a person must maintain to keep him healthy?

  • gerald

    Im doing zumba for 1 hr and 1 hr in the gym for weight lifting for muscle toning. I do this 3- 4 times a week is it ok? Or i over do it.