No Time for Exercise? Try the 3 x 10 Method

by Brad Isaac on July 23, 2006

As busy as we all are, it’s easy to use the excuse “I’m too busy to exercise!” I’ve used it myself on more than one occasion. ;) It can be difficult to find a solid 30 minutes for a good aerobic workout.

But what if you could not only get by, but actually get a better workout in 10 minutes? According to a Stanford University research study, three 10 minute workout sessions (morning, lunch and evening) produced the same benefit as a solid 30 minute workout at one time. The benefits of increased peak oxygen uptake, lower heart rate and weight loss were virtually the same in both test groups. The reason it might improve your benefit is in the 1 time per day group, there was only one cool down – where heart rate stayed elevated for 1/2 hour after the excercise. However the people who excercised 3 times got 3 cool downs. (American Journal of Cardiology 65:1010-

1013, 1990.)

So maybe a ten minute jog in the morning, a 10 minute walk at lunch, and another 10 minute jog at night might be easier for some of us who have the challenge of fitting in one big 30 minute workout. It might also be easier to follow through as well since hey, it’s only 10 minutes!

I am curious. Which do you think would be easier for you to handle? The big exercise period at one time? Or would breaking it up into 3 small periods work better for you?

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Martin Gordon July 23, 2006 at 11:02 pm

1×30 works better for me because of the overhead involved. My current 30 minute sessions extend to about an hour after adding in walking to/from the gym and showering. Having to do that three times a day would probably make the 30 minute “session” turn into an hour and a half.

B. Riley July 24, 2006 at 2:22 pm

I agree with Martin. I’m on the 1 x 30 plan. Actually. . sometimes it’s the .3 x 30 plan. . LOL So maybe I should try 3 x 10 on the days when it’s going to be 0 x 30. I could get my ratio up. ;-)

Silvia July 24, 2006 at 10:37 pm

I am quite lazy and this is much easier for me to do. At least, I am more prone to accept doing exercise if it takes me only 10 minutes.

Brad Isaac July 25, 2006 at 9:07 am

Only 1 out of 3 people like the 10 x 3 method? ??

I can understand if you attend a gym or have to drive to workout, but if you consider many buildings have stairs you could climb for 10 minutes, you could easily squeeze in 2 workouts at work.

Dave Cheong August 3, 2006 at 8:05 pm


Personally, I’m a fan of time boxing which is about limiting the time you spend on a task. It is either done at that stage or you schedule another time slot to continue. It’s pretty effective because it makes you focus on what’s important, avoid overruns and can be a tool against procrastination.

Also because each of us have busy lives, finding the free periods between commitments to do little things during these “null” times can make you more effective.

For me, I definitely prefer doing things in shorter time periods, but more frequently.

BTW, if you’re interested in time boxing, check out my post:

The converse to this argument is the problem of switching contexts. I think our brains can only juggle a limited number of things concurrently. So the more often we go in and out of contexts (ie excercising), the more time and energy we have to spend on switching contexts.


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