Fitness First: The 12-minute Solution

Krista Howell
By Krista Howell June 15, 2017 15:16

Daunted by the prospect of exercise? Don’t have the time, you say? Consider starting out by exercising just 12 minutes a day and building your endurance over time. In six weeks, you should be able to exercise for 12 minutes straight twice a day.

Even relatively short exercise sessions can significantly improve your health and fitness – and it’s hardly some new, unproven fad. It dates back nearly four decades, to Covert Bailey’s Fit or Fat, the first exercise book I bought in college. Its message: Working out continuously and strenuously for short intervals can make a major difference.

Too good to be true? No. I see it every day in cardiac rehabilitation. I’ve used Bailey’s formula to help patients weakened by major surgery rebuild cardio and physical strength.

Recently I watched an 85-year-old patient push himself on the treadmill. His first goal was eight minutes, then 10 and finally 12. Now six weeks into rehab, he is so much stronger. Yes, his routine includes stretching and light dumbbells, but his 12 minutes on the treadmill is key.

Of course, you must do it regularly, and your activity must be aerobic – walking, running, cycling, etc. I recommend starting with a couple of minutes of warm-up exercise, then cooling down after the 12.

How can you figure how high your heart rate should be?

Simply subtract your age (say it’s 65) from 220, for a maximum rate of 155. As the optimum exercising rate is 70 to 85 percent of max, you should work out at between 108 to 130 beats per minute. Want to skip the math? Just exercise until you’re breathing hard enough that it’s difficult to have a conversation.

Below is a chart with my progressive plan to reduce blood pressure, cut stress, and increase your metabolism to help with weight loss. This program helps build endurance by breaking exercise routines into short sessions that can be done throughout the day, or in three sets with a short break between each. The goal is to increase weekly exercise from about an hour to more than two hours.

Note that the numbers in the graph represent minutes of higher-intensity exercise; warm-up and cool-down times are not included.

Your next step? Remove the clothes you’ve hung on your treadmill or stationary bike, dust it off, and begin your program!

Exercise physiologist Krista Howell of Sonora works with cardiac patients and teaches senior fitness.

Copyright © 2017 Friends and Neighbors Magazine

Krista Howell
By Krista Howell June 15, 2017 15:16
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