A brief workout can come with big rewards.

It all comes down to effort. “There’s an intensity, duration tradeoff,” says Martin Gibala, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University, Ontario.

If your primary goal is to be healthy, then the harder you work, the less time you need to exercise, says Gibala.

For instance, you’ll expend more energy performing a higher intensity activity like running stairs for just 10 minutes than you would jogging at a leisurely pace for a half hour.

Yes, we know: Ten minutes of work isn’t enough time to make you shredded or even help you lose those extra 5kgs. But it will improve your cardiorespiratory fitness, which lowers your risk of contracting heart disease, found a study inMedicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
And a daily sweat can benefit your brain, too. Cardio protects against depression and anxiety, and it may delay dementia, according to a report by the United States Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee.

Try the scientifically proven 10-minute cardio workout below from Gibala’s research at McMaster University. Participants who did it three times a week for six weeks reduced their risk of chronic disease and death by up to 15 percent, he says.

When your schedule is packed, you can sub it in for a longer cardio session. You can also use it as metabolic “finisher’ to cap off a weight training session.

The Workout: You can do this by running outdoors or cycling on a stationary bike.

Warm up for 2 minutes by exercising at a comfortable pace. Then sprint as fast as you can for 20 seconds, followed by 2 minutes of rest. That’s 1 set.

Do a total of 3 sets.

Cool down with a slow 3-minute jog. You can do this by running outdoors or cycling on a stationary bike.

Warm up for 2 minutes by exercising at a comfortable pace. Then perform three all-out 20-second sprints with two-minute rests in between. After your third sprint, cool down with a slow 3-minute jog.