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  • Post published:26/04/2021
  • Post last modified:26/04/2021

This question comes up a lot from people doing the Whole Life Challenge:

“Why only 10 minutes of exercise a day? That doesn’t seem like much!”

But let’s reframe the question a bit. Ask yourself this: “Could 10 minutes really make a difference? Can that get me where I want to go? Can it get me the results I want?”

The answer is yes, it can!

The 10-minute rule was something we thought long and hard about when we created the Whole Life Challenge. There were a lot of questions we took into account, but in the end, we decided that the goal was to establish the foundation for a daily practice.

It’s not the answer, or the endpoint, for everything related to your fitness. It’s not supposed to be.

But it’s enough to get you out of bed and get you moving. It’s enough to make you feel like you did something when you’re done. It’s enough to shift your energy on a busy day when you don’t have time for more. It’s enough to have you feel like you experienced fun, or play, or nature. And it’s even enough to leave you feeling sore the next day.

Plus, if you extrapolate it over a full year, that’s 60 hours of exercise you may not have been doing otherwise! Ten minutes a day can really add up to something significant.

In the video above, I explain in detail why 10 minutes of exercise can be effective, but it basically boils down to three key things:

  • Doability
    Ten minutes a day feels like it’s doable, even on the days when you really don’t want to do it.Think about it: How do you say to yourself with a straight face that you don’t have the time or energy for 10 minutes of activity? Most of the time, you can’t. Therefore you’re more likely to actually do it.
  • Intensity
    Ten minutes a day is short enough that you can engage in whatever you’re doing with more intensity.Would you walk at a faster pace if I told you to only walk for 10 minutes as opposed to 60 minutes? Of course you would.That’s important because your body has adapted to your current lifestyle. It knows what it needs to do every single day to make it through your life. Doing the same thing, at the same speed, with the same intensity every day (like walking the dog) might feel good, and it can help your mobility, but it doesn’t cause your body to change or adapt. It’s got no reason to because it’s already within its capacity.

    By exercising for 10 minutes with intensity and effort, you’ll be more likely to give your body what it needs to keep adapting, building muscle, and increasing your capacity.

  • Enoughness
    Ten minutes a day is enough to actually give you a great workout.You might think that in order to get a good workout in, you need to exercise for at least 30 minutes. Preferably even 60 minutes. (When was the last time you saw an advertisement for a 10-minute workout class? Or met with a trainer for 10 minutes?)It’s not like 30 or 60 minutes wouldn’t benefit you. It’s that you can get in a great workout in 10 minutes. But it all goes back to intensity — you have to want it. This isn’t just a lolly-gag exercise session. You must be willing to go as hard as you can that day.

If you’re not convinced yet (or even if you are), I have a workout for you to try. All you need is a sidewalk and a stopwatch, but you have to be willing to push yourself as hard as you can during this exercise.

Check it out below, and if you try the workout, leave a comment and let me know how it went for you!

And if you need more ideas for quick but challenging workouts, check out my series of Living Room Workouts.

Andy’s 10-Minute Workout Challenge

Equipment: Workout clothes, running shoes, a stopwatch

Warmup: If you’re not warmed up, use the first two rounds to “warm up”


At Go!:

  • Walk or run as fast as you can (today) for 20 seconds
  • Slow or stop for 10 seconds

At this point you’ll be at 30 seconds total.

Immediately start again:

  • Walk or run as fast as you can (today) for 20 seconds
  • Slow or stop for 10 seconds

Repeat this for a total of 8 cycles (or rounds).

This will take you 3 minutes and 50 seconds

Rest for 1 minute.

At 5:00 on the stopwatch:

  • Squat, lunge, sit up or push up for 20 seconds
  • Stop for 10 seconds

Repeat for a total of 8 cycles (or rounds).

This will take you up to the 8:50 point.

Rest for the remaining 1 minute.

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