How often you need to exercise to see results, according to the creator of the viral 7-minute workout

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Darren Weaver

  • Working out regularly is key to achieving results, according to Chris Jordan, the exercise physiologist who came up with the 7-minute workout.
  • Jordan gave us a sample week-long fitness routine to start with.
  • His recommendations are supported by recent research that found that regular exercise was key to keeping the heart healthy into older age.

If you’ve renewed your commitment to getting fit now that summer is around the corner, you may be wondering how much time that goal requires.

For workouts to produce real results, exercise has to be a consistent habit, Chris Jordan, the exercise physiologist who came up with the popular 7-minute workout, told Business Insider.

Jordan’s viral routine, officially called the “Johnson & Johnson Official 7 Minute Workout” is based on a popular form of fitness called interval training. It’s designed to give you the benefits of a sweaty bike ride or longer cardio workout in just a few minutes – but you have to commit to doing it regularly.

That means exercising three to five times a week at minimum, Jordan said.

His insight is bolstered by two recent studies, which found that the best results for heart health were gleaned when participants exercised four to five times per week.

That isn’t to say that other, less frequent attempts to squeeze more fitness into your daily life don’t count – they do. Everything from taking the stairs at work to getting up from your desk throughout the day has a positive impact on your overall health, according to a study published in March.

But if you want benefits that you can see in the form of toned muscles, you’ll need to commit to a regular fitness routine.

Two studies show how regular exercise can keep the heart young

For a study published this month in the Journal of Physiology, researchers worked with 102 people over age 60 who had recorded their daily exercise history for several decades. The participants were split into four categories based on how frequently they worked out for at least 30 minutes at a time. On the lowest end were people who fell into the “sedentary” category – they exercised less than twice a week. On the highest end were people the researchers named “master athletes” who worked out six to seven times per week, or basically every day.

They analyzed how the study participants’ hearts were performing in terms of the size of their arteries and blood flow to the body. The researchers found that the folks with healthiest or youngest-looking hearts were those who worked out four to five times per week.

woman running jogging exercise

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Benjamin Levine, the author of the study and a professor of internal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern, said in a statement that his findings could help people design “exercise programs to keep the heart youthful and even turn back time on older hearts and blood vessels.”

Levine’s paper comes on the heels of another study that he published in January in the Journal of the American Heart Association. That research suggested that adults who worked out four to five times per week for roughly two years saw significant improvements in their heart performance compared to people who only did stretching and balancing exercises for those two years.

At the time, Levine said, “We found what we believe to be the optimal dose of the right kind of exercise.”

This newer study appears to back him up.

A sample weekly workout schedule for better overall health

While Levine’s work has focused on heart health, it’s likely that his advice applies to people who are looking for physical results – like leaner limbs and toned muscles – or psychological improvements, such as mood boosts and higher energy levels.

Jordan and Levine both recommend interspersing cardio – activities like running on a treadmill, riding a bike, or doing high-intensity interval training – with resistance training like planks, squats, or leg raises.

Here’s an example five-day training plan that Jordan suggests:

  • Monday: Cycling and upper-body resistance training, like arm raises.
  • Tuesday: Yoga and lower-body resistance training, like squats.
  • Wednesday: Running and upper-body resistance training, like bench presses.
  • Thursday: Rest.
  • Friday: Boxing and lower-body resistance training, like leg raises.

Whichever workout you try, the most important thing is to keep doing it. That might mean setting up a regular time every day when you cut out of the office for spin class or simply getting up earlier to hit the track most mornings.

“Plan ahead, schedule, the most important thing is to do it on a consistent basis,” Jordan said.