I work at home and I bought an elliptical training machine. So I can train as many times per day as I want. It would be comfortable for me to work for about 30 minutes and then make 5 minutes break for training. My work day is about 8 hours, so I could make 16 breaks and it would be 80 training minutes per day. I understand that short trainings not so effective as long-time trainings, but how critical is it?

For example calories indicator shows me that I burned 60 kcal per 5 minutes. So will I burn 60*16 = 960 kcal per day or short trainigs will negate this effect? What about endurance training? Heart training? How much less effective such short trainings will be in comparison with long time trainings if they are equal in time?

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    This might depend on what your goal is as well. Are you going for endurance? Speed? Weight loss? Muscle tone?
    – Cullub
    Jul 24, 2019 at 18:57
  • My main goal is muscle tone, because I always seat during my work. So I need to make breaks anyway and I want to use the breaks with maximum benefit. But the secondary goal is weight loss. Jul 25, 2019 at 5:33
  • I think that 16 short sessions in theory should be okay. However you will constantly be working out a “cold” body, since you don’t have time to warm up, increasing the risk of injuries. Also, 60 kcal per 5 minutes is really high intensity - if you want the 960 kcal per day, you need to max out your effort every time you do your 5 minutes.
    – ssn
    Jul 25, 2019 at 21:45
  • regarding 60 kcal per 5 minutes: it is the value that my training machine shows at LOWEST intensity. Maybe counts depend on my weight it is 95 kg now, or maybe the machine counts the calories wrong. But any anyway 5 minutes at lowest intensity is not somehow hard for me, but I feel better each time after such short training break Jul 26, 2019 at 4:45
  • @SergeyKravchenko most machines significantly overestimates the kcal consumption. One burpee burns approximately 0.5 kcal, so 10 burpees is approx. 5 kcal. So I highly doubt that relatively low intensity on the machine burns the same amount as doing a ton of burpees ;-)
    – ssn
    Aug 1, 2019 at 11:20

2 Answers 2


The World Health Organisation updated its physical activity guidelines in 2020 1, and one part of this update was a recognition that in order to reap the health benefits of physical activity, the total amount of physical activity performed per week is what matters, with the duration of individual bouts of physical activity being unimportant.2

So yes, 16 daily bouts of 5 minutes of exercise could reasonably be expected to be just as health-promoting as a single daily bout of 80 minutes of exercise at the same exercise intensity.

I suspect that the biggest drawback of shorter exercise bouts would that they wouldn't be as effective for preparing you mentally or physically for longer bouts of exercise, if that matters to you. For instance, running a half mile every 30 minutes during the day probably wouldn't the most effective way of training for a half marathon.


What about endurance training?

For that you will have to actually push your body further, it is a good way to lose weight, this is certain. But not great for building endurance.

Heart training?

Again, higher intensities tend to be better.

Good news: The more you train in the glycolytic pathway, the more efficient you become at creating ATP, so you create less waste, says Dr. Bhuyan. Ultimately, that means you're able to exercise at that intensity for longer. "You get a big bang for your buck here," adds Lipson. For example, burning fat and boosting your metabolism are just two of the benefits of HIIT.

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