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The Scientific 7-Minute Workout: Enough Pain?

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senior man exercising in park
senior man exercising in park

I finished my scientific seven-minute workout as the clock hit 7 a.m. While I sipped on my home-made fruit, spinach and protein powder smoothie, I tried to convince myself that I had just finished a work out equivalent to running my usual three miles around the reservoir, followed by a full weight routine. I contemplated this until I sucked my smoothie dry, then I jogged over to my computer and signed up for a barre boot camp class. Call me neurotic, but I'm not buying into the whole "seven-minutes is as good as an hour" thing. Are you?

Everyone seems to be talking about this scientific seven-minute workout, but I don't know anyone who actually believes it- at least enough to substitute it for their regular workout. They are talking about it at the gym as they finish their 55-minute pilates, tabata and strength and tone classes, and they are talking about it breathless as they do their interval sprints on the treadmills.

Of course they are talking about it. The idea of a seven-minute workout is intriguing (almost as intriguing as a diet where you can eat as much as you want!) And the fact that the New York Time's article The seven-minute Scientific Workout took less than a minute to read- gave it even more legitimacy. These people are time sensitive..... would they lead us astray? I am a big believer that just about everything in life is way too long, and if I could get my daily dose of exercise completed in seven-minutes, well, I'd be down with that.

According to the scientists at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario (right, I never heard of it either-but it turns out it is Ranked 48th in the world for scientific papers in clinical medicine) the seven-minute workout is the equivalent of a.) several hours of bike riding or running and b.) weight training. Now what, tell me what, could be better than that?

So I gave it the old college try. My first seven-minute at home workout turned out to be a 17 minute workout, if you count the minutes it took to change into my work out clothes, double knot my sneakers (there is no time in this work out to your tie shoes), run up and down the stairs to find an elastic for my hair (extra cardio there), go to the bathroom, fill up my water bottle, find and move a suitable chair to climb on, and locate a wall from which I could see a clock with a second hand (that was not easy).

I did exactly as was suggested: 30 seconds of each exercise- with a 10 second break in between. The "breaks" turned out to be barely enough time to digest what exercise was up next. Some were easy for me (jumping jacks). Some were more difficult (30 seconds of pushups- the "manly" kind- with rotations.) When I finished, I was huffing and puffing and had a sweat going. Still, it was only seven-minutes. I'm used to an hour of huffing and puffing with a sweat going. I know the seven-minute workout is interval training, but it's not like interval training is new in the fitness world. When I finished I felt as if I should take a little break-- and then do it twice more. Who ever heard of doing a circuit once?

The routine left me thinking that the seven-minute workout is for those who already know their way around a proper tricep dip, but are utterly and completely stretched for time. Better a seven-minute workout than no workout at all, right? And it made me wonder why there was no warning for those not already in shape. Clearly, if you are new to exercise, don't try 30 seconds of manly pushups on your tiled kitchen floor - there is no time in this regime for wiping up the blood when you collapse on your face. And unless you already know how to do a proper squat, plank and push up, you might be wasting those precious minutes.

As much as I would like to believe that I could keep fit in seven-minutes a day, I can't help thinking of the "Non-Fat Frozen Yogurt" Seinfeld episode. Some things in life are just too good to be true. So, for now, I won't be giving up my routine. I'm gonna put on those running shoes and suck in that pollen-filled air. I'm hoping one of my already fit readers will take one for the team, and substitute the seven-minute scientific workout for their usual routine and report back. Please, let us know how it works out for you.

And if you gain a little weight and get a bit flabby from the seven-minute scientific workout? Blame Canada.

Ronna is not taking any chances- she just signed up for membership at the Equinox in her home town which will be opening in November, 2013. If you are interested in the Equinox Experience, contact Daniel Smith at

Looking for more articles by Ronna about exercise for women over 50? You can read about Ronna's first sprint Triathlon experience here.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

Exercise Over 50