According to the American Heart Association’s guidelines for physical activity, adult women should engage in cardiovascular workouts at a moderate level for a minimum of 150 minutes per week, or do vigorous cardiovascular activity for at least 75 minutes per week. Add to this two to three sessions of strengthening and stretching, and you have a week of complementary workouts. However, certain 30-minutes workouts deliver more physical benefits than others.
Ideal 30-minute workouts for women target their specific fitness goals. For weight loss, the Mayo Clinic.com guide to exercise recommends running and rollerblading, which burn up to 500 to 700 calories in 30 minutes. For flexibility, strengthening and stress relief, Dr. Mehmet Oz outlines a plan that incorporates doing a series of classic yoga sun salutations coupled with breathing and meditation. To build endurance and boost metabolism, try interval training or circuit training that has you working out at maximum level for 30 seconds, taking the pace down for a few minutes, and then returning to maximum level.
A 30-minute workout session does not have to be high impact to raise your heart rate and burn calories. Intense floor work and low-impact calisthenics, such as lunges, squats, push-ups, lateral raises and pull-ups simultaneously build muscle and improve your cardiovascular health. Low-impact workouts such as yoga and Pilates, when done fluidly and with intensity, can deliver similar benefits.
The best 30-minute workouts target your major muscle groups. Include a brief period of stretching at the beginning and ending of exercising to warm up and cool down. You should sweat with the intensity of the workout.
Exercise machines can also offer intense 30-minutes workouts. Set a stair machine, elliptical trainer or treadmill on its interval level, which has you switching from a steady, brisk pace to a near sprint and back again for several cycles over the course of half an hour. If your machine does not have an interval level, you can replicate it by upping the intensity every 5 minutes, sprinting for 30 seconds, and returning to a recovery pace.
Not every workout routine suits every woman. If you have health concerns or more specific goals, such as losing weight quickly or recovering from an injury, consult with a doctor or personal trainer.