The 7-Minute Workout

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Do you have 7 minutes to spare? It’s less than the average amount of commercials shown during one half-hour TV show. Most people do have 7 minutes to spare and I bet you do, too. Adding this habit into your regular routine can accelerate your efforts of building muscle, losing weight and, most importantly, managing your diabetes. No gym is needed; just a chair, your body weight and a wall.  I bet you have all of these as well as those 7 minutes for a workout to manage your diabetes. Does this workout sound too good to be true? Keep reading to find out why it works and how it’s ideal for those suffering from Type 2 or prediabetes.

First, we should mention the necessary disclaimer about exercising. Please consult with your medical professional before embarking on an intense physical activity. If your body is struggling to find harmony with your current situation, there is no need to over burden yourself. For most diabetics struggling with high blood sugar, high cholesterol, high blood pressure or anything else it can prove best to start by altering your diet. This tends to produce the most dramatic changes that will allow you to ready your body for more intense activity. And for those who have mobility restrictions, this 7-minute workout might not work for you.


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The 7-minute workout can cause weight loss and may reverse your diabetes.

Smarter exercise, with good nutrition, will lead to weight loss. Exercising too much can cause inflammation and minimal weight loss.



The background to this workout is what sets it apart from the many other trendy workouts. Two professionals published an article in an issue of the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal that boiled down extensive training guidelines into an efficient high-intensity circuit training routine. It combines the benefits of cardio, weight lifting through body resistance and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). And it’s available on a free website or smart phone app. This is the type of short cut that every diabetic should know about.

One of the two authors of this investigation, Chris Jordan, the director of Exercise Physiology, at the Human Performance Institute, said that “There’s very good evidence many of the fitness benefits of prolonged endurance training but in much less time.” This statement refers to the high-intensity interval training (HIIT) part of this workout. In recent discoveries, HIIT has been found to improve glucose metabolism and improve fat burning. If you are not familiar with HIIT, it is a type of cardio exercise interval that can be applied to different modes of exercising. It alternates short, intense forms of exercise with rest periods.  One session of a HIIT exercise usually last between 4 and 30 minutes. Here is an example of a HIIT workout:

Your waistline is your lifeline.

― Jack LaLanne

While HIIT is just a subset of the 7-minute workout, the entire workout is defined by these professional trainers as high-intensity circuit training (HICT). (I promise that’s the last of the similar looking acronyms!) The modern form of circuit training has been around since the 1950’s, but several researchers have experimented with increasing the intensity with different exercises. Specifically, they picked exercises that greatly raised the heart rate and by varying the rest times to find the ideal for the most gains in the shortest amount of time. This workout is the result of years of scientific work by experienced trainers.

This high-intensity circuit training (HICT) has proven to be a fast, reliable and efficient means to losing body fat while retaining muscle. The exercises use several of the larger muscles with brief periods of rest in between. Researchers have found this combination to evoke both metabolic and aerobic benefits, which can last up to 72 hours after a HICT workout has been completed. HICT has also been proven to decrease insulin resistance over time, which is significant factor in developing Type 2 or prediabetes. Ladies and gentlemen, this is precisely how to exercise smarter and not harder, for greatest benefits with minimal efforts!


Planks are one of the exercises in the 7-minute workout for diabetes.

Planks are one of the exercises in the hyper-efficient 7-Minute Workout.



The common wisdom about exercise is just as flawed in its reasoning as the common wisdom on nutrition. How many times have you heard someone say that eating a 650 calorie hamburger will take 6.5 hours to run it off (assuming a 100 calorie/hour rate)? Or that 250 calorie slice of cake will take you 3 1/3 hours to walk it off (assuming a 75 calorie/hour rate). This broken “logic” comes from the dated medical science of viewing body fat in the same context as the thermodynamic burning of calories. They reasoned that burning 1 gram of fat produced 9 calories of heat. This is true when you burn 1 lb of whale fat in a laboratory and measure the 4,086 calories of heat that it produced. It’s surprising that anyone even attempts to exercise at all with these absurdly high calculations for the time needed.

Unfortunately, the body is not such a simple science experiment as they concluded. Your organs, your hormones and cells all play unique, complex and intertwined roles when exercising, even for a mere 7 minutes. When physical activity is present above normal resting rates the sympathetic nervous system produces a signal to your muscles. The result of this signal is that more new mitochondria are produced from burning energy in the form of glucose or body fat. This is key because new mitochondria functions better than old mitochondria to process and consume energy. To refresh your body sciences knowledge, the mitochondria functions as the powerhouse of the cell because it produces most of the ATP which is used as the source of chemical energy. Newly formed mitochondria improve the performance of insulin sensitivity, which is a good thing for diabetics trying to undo the harmful effect of metabolic syndrome. This is why someone who is hiking Mt Everest or the entire 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail can consume two double bacon cheeseburgers and still manage to lose weight. Their mitochondria is working so efficiently and their caloric output is so high that their body has no chance of converting this energy to storage as body fat for later use.

Some indirect benefits of exercise can also prove helpful long after your 7 minutes of exercise has ended. The beauty of physical activity is that it changes these biochemical processes in our body for up to 72 hours. This is why it is essential for those suffering from diabetes to force yourself to get active and stay active. When you exert yourself, your body releases endorphins from the central nervous system and pituitary gland. These chemicals are that feel good to the brain and produce a similar feeling to other opioids. Another benefit you receive from exercise is the reduction in your cortisol, or stress hormones. This is beneficial since one of the top causes of diabetes is from stress and the resulting stress eating. Exercise has even been studied to show that it can be used to control systemic inflammation, precisely the type of help needed by those suffering metabolic syndrome.


A chair is the only equipment needed for a 7-minute workout that may reverse diabetes.

This workout only requires a wall, a digital device and a chair.



As the theory behind this workout is very specific, so are the exercises and the order in which they are to be performed. There’s twelve exercises with a quick ten second break in between each. The above website, app or web app can offer the cadence and instruction needed for success.
7-Minute Workout Exercises for diabetes
You will notice the lack of any expensive or complex exercise equipment needed. This makes this routine not only excellent for doing at home, but also if you are travelling and staying in a hotel room. If you are fortunate enough to have an exercise room at work or school, this routine will work there, too. If you make this short workout a daily habit, you should be well on your way to improving your physical health and consequently, reducing the impact diabetes has on your life.


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The downfall of having a quick workout means that you might become bored with doing the same exercises over and over. As the mental part of our body can become accustomed and bored with these exercises in due time, so can our physical body. When the body is exposed to the same exercises over and over, the exercises become less effective. Once you reach this level, consider doing the advanced 7-minute workout. A good practice, to keep the exercise effective, is to alternate the standard and advanced, by day, week or month, but not during the same session.

For those desiring more intensity, it is certainly okay to double down (or even triple down, if you dare). Complete the first 7-minute workout, take a five-minute break and then repeat the entire 7-minute workout routine again. Should you ever find yourself training for a 5K or a long backpacking trip, this can prove helpful for training since it tackles both the cardio and muscular development. If you have a month to train for an event, start with doing this workout daily for the first week. Then add two per day for the second week, three per day for the third week and, finally, four per day for the last week.




Has this article helped you learn more about the ease of a 7-minute workout to combat diabetes? If you enjoyed this article, others may also find it useful. If we’ve earned it, can we kindly ask that you share this article online or through email? A referral is the greatest compliment a customer can give a business and we thank you for helping us spread the good word to the millions who suffer from this troubling disease.


Diabetic Lifestyle Advocate


I am the resident Diabetic Lifestyle Advocate at Five Hour Diabetic. Here I debunk conventional thinking about nutrition and exercise. My purpose is to enable diabetics to take back control of their health. And make simple recipes that honestly don’t suck.

Photos by Fotolia and Flickr user Haldane Martin.