Experts have long said that even short periods of exercise can boost heart health. Now there’s new proof. According to a study of postmenopausal women, just 10 minutes a day can help improve cardiovascular health. Quick stints “have a dual beneficial effect,” says cardiologist Peter Diamond, MD, of the University of Illinois Medical Center. “They improve lean muscle mass, which helps the body burn more calories, and the aerobic activity promotes fat burning.” Heart disease risk increases after 40, so this simple, effective, two-for-one workout is twice as smart now. Choose sequence A, B, or C.
Time it takes: 10 minutes. Set a timer for one minute, repeat the first move until the bell rings, then reset the timer and do the next move for a minute, and then the next. Continue until you’ve exercised for 10 minutes. If you have 20 minutes to spare, add a second sequence (see below). String all three together for a 30-minute, full-body workout.
How often: Do at least one sequence every day. A few times a week, combine two or three sequences for a longer workout, or do two or three separate 10-minute sessions over the course of a day. To keep your heart rate up, rest for no more than 20 seconds between exercises.
See results: You will feel stronger after one week, and notice tighter muscle tone in six weeks.
Complementary workouts: Do at least 30 minutes of cardio exercise, such as walking or jumping rope, three to five times a week.
Saddlebag Smoother, part 1 of 2
Works obliques and thighs, butt, and shoulders
Stand with your feet hip-distance apart. Raise your right knee and your right hand.
Saddlebag Smoother, part 2 of 2
Leap to the right, swinging your right arm back and shifting your weight to your right foot. Switch sides. Repeat.
Ab Flattener, part 1 of 2
Works the transverse abdominals
Lying on your back, raise your feet, bending your knees slightly.
Ab Flattener, part 2 of 2
With your hips and lower back on the floor and your legs slightly bent, lower the left leg to create a 45-degree angle with the floor. (Modification: Put your hands under your tailbone before lowering the leg.) Pause. Return to start. Switch sides. Repeat.
Waist Whittler, part 1 of 2
Works obliques and hips
Start in the lunge position by placing your left foot in front, with knee over ankle, and your right leg behind you, resting your weight on the ball of that foot. Place your hands behind your head to stretch your chest muscles.
Waist Whittler, part 2 of 2
Twisting toward your left side, extend your right elbow slightly toward your left knee. Keep your spine upright so you don’t hurt your back. Assume a standing position. Switch sides. Repeat.
By Andrea Metcalf