Easy 15-Minute Workouts for a Longer Life

Slash calories and reap major health benefits in no time with quick bursts of fun activities.

June 15, 2016
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In less time than it takes to watch another rerun of The Office, you can blast calories and increase your chance of a long life. Just 15 minutes of exercise a day can extend your life by 3 years, according to recent research from Taiwan. The study tracked more than 400,000 people over 13 years and found that participants who completed 15 minutes of moderate exercise a day (think brisk walking) increased their life expectancy by an average of 3 years compared with inactive individuals. The quarter-hour of activity has other benefits, too; the researchers were able to draw a connection between daily exercise and a lower incidence of cancer. And, of course, while you're at it you'll also burn calories—sometimes close to 200 in just 15 minutes.

Putting in your time can often be accomplished by doing activities you love, without setting foot inside the gym. Here Ruth Frechman, RD, author of The Food Is My Friend Diet, Keri Gans, RD, author of The Small Change Diet, and Jim White, RD, owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios in Virginia Beach, Virginia, suggest some simple ways to get moving.

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Jumping Rope

Burn: 167 calories in 15 minutes

Skipping rope isn't just for schoolgirls. Have you ever wondered why boxers are in such great shape? Many of them jump rope to train. "It's like a full-body workout," Frechman says "It's excellent for your legs and heart, and you're also involving your arms and shoulders." A mere 15 minutes of hopping—done either continuously or in short intervals with rest—will melt more than 150 calories.

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Mountain Biking

Burn: 150 calories in 15 minutes

Take your two-wheeler for a quick ride. Just 15 minutes on moderate terrain will vanquish 150 calories. "You'll increase your burn potential if you ride hills or rough terrain, and if it's hot outside you could lose twice as many calories," White says.

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Doing Hot Yoga

Burn: 125 calories in 15 minutes

The 105°F temperature of the room will help you shed calories in a hurry. Just 15 minutes of hot yoga (or Bikram yoga) eradicates 125, and some studies show that you can sweat off up to 1,000 during a 90-minute class, White says. Research has shown that yoga may also relieve anxiety and back pain.

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Riding a Stationary Bike

Burn: 115 calories in 15 minutes

The stationary bike's a great option for people with injuries or individuals who want to go easy on their joints, White says. It doesn't burn as many calories as running on the treadmill or using the elliptical, but you will still shed more than 100 calories in a quarter-hour workout.

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Playing Tennis

Burn: 107 calories in 15 minutes

There's no need to plan a marathon match àla Isner and Mahut's epic 11-hour showdown, because a mere 15 minutes of doubles tennis play will burn more than 100 calories, and even a tennis-inspired strength workout will do. "If you're playing singles, the burn is more intense, and playing a competitive partner will increase the calories you lose," White says.

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Hiking

Burn: 100 calories in 15 minutes

You'll need to hike only a quarter of an hour up a moderate hill—or choose a gorgeous hike trail for a boost—to leave 100 calories in the dust. To burn even more, wear a backpack or weighted vest during your climb, Frechman suggests.

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Hitting a Punching Bag

Burn: 100 calories in 15 minutes

A quick punching session will help you alleviate any pent-up aggression and is also a good way to work your biceps, triceps, shoulders, and upper body, according to White. Fifteen minutes of slugging will knock out 100 calories.

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Swimming

Burn: 100 calories in 15 minutes

The next time you hit the pool or beach, hop into the water instead of onto the lounge chair. "We're not even talking about heavy-duty swimming. A slow, leisurely swim for 15 minutes will do the trick," Gans says. If you're able to take a dip in the ocean, even better—you'll burn more calories when you're fighting the waves.

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Kayaking

Burn: 88 calories in 15 minutes

Give your arms, back, and shoulders a workout with a ride around the local lake; a short kayaking cruise will clobber close to 100 calories. To up the burn potential (and the thrills) head for a little whitewater to work against a current or rapids, White recommends.

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Walking

Burn: 46 to 100 calories in 15 minutes (2 mph to 4 mph)

The general rule is walking 1 mile burns 100 calories, according to Frechman. Depending on how quickly you're hoofing it, you could walk off up to 100 calories in just 15 minutes! If you don't have time for an extended jaunt, find reasons to walk more throughout the day. Park farther away from your destination, walk over to a coworker's desk instead of sending an email, or stroll to lunch instead of having it delivered.

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Dancing

Burn: 75 calories in 15 minutes

The next time you're at a wedding reception, leave your inner-wallflower behind and get on the dance floor. If you dance for just 15 minutes you'll shimmy off 75 calories according to Gans, which means you can feel less guilty about munching cake. Just think about how much you'll burn if you groove through the entire reception!

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Weeding the Garden

Burn: 75 calories in 15 minutes

"Being in the garden can be therapeutic," Gans says. "[By growing and eating your own vegetables] you become more attuned to what you're putting into your body." In addition to burning nearly 100 calories, while you're outside you'll get a supply of Vitamin D from the sun, which is enormously beneficial. The nutrient's been linked to bone health and weight loss.

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Playing Table Tennis

Burn: 68 calories in 15 minutes

The paddles may be tiny, but the payoff can be big if you play long enough. Twenty-two minutes—about the length of one game—is enough time to smash 100 calories, and in 15 minutes you'll kill 68. "It's a pretty vigorous game. You're jumping around, picking up balls, and slamming them with your arm; it's a good workout," Frechman says.

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Bowling

Burn: 54 calories in 15 minutes

You wouldn't know it by his physique, but maybe the Dude was onto something—just 15 minutes of throwing balls down the alley gets rid of more than 50 calories. However, it doesn't count if you're bowling with a party and there are lags between turns (especially if you're chowing down on pizza and beer in the meantime). According to White, you'll burn calories most effectively if you play with a partner and are stepping up to bowl every other turn.

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Frisbee

Burn: 54 calories in 15 minutes

The next time you head to the park with friends, be sure to pack a flying disk. Tossing a Frisbee around (and running after it when it inevitably goes wayward) for fewer than 20 minutes will knock off more than 50 calories, according to White.

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Pushing a Baby Stroller

Burn: 46 calories in 15 minutes

"So many parents say to me that when they have young children, they have no time for exercise. I say, put the child in the stroller and go for a walk. It's a win-win situation—the parent gets exercise and the baby gets fresh air," Gans says. In fact, a 15-minute trip around the block will burn 46 postbaby calories.

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Window Shopping

Burn: 38 calories in 15 minutes

As fall fashions hit stores, don't be shy about checking them out. A stroll through the mall could help you fit into a smaller size. By walking around and browsing for an hour, you'll lose 150 calories; a 15-minute errand will blast close to 40. Plus a 2006 study from the University of Calgary in Canada found that mall walking improved overall physical fitness among older adults.

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