Hey there, you on the treadmill! If you're putting in hour-long sessions in hopes of seeing decreasing numbers on your scale, it may be okay to step off and cut yourself a break.

Short workouts may be as effective at longer ones for weight loss, according to a study published online in the American Journal of Physiology.

The study, reported in Diabetes Forecast, found overweight men who engaged in 30 minutes of exercise a day lost eight pounds in a three-month period while those who worked out for an hour a day lost just six pounds.

How's this possible? The study participants who exercised for an hour at a time may have been driven to eat more, theorized the researchers.  And if they ate more, the extra calories burned during exercise would be negated by the additional food they consumed.

At any rate, this study signals welcome news for time-pressed dieters who just can't fit in a long workout session. There are many options for shorter workouts that are fun and energizing. Here, just a few to consider.

Dance to your favorite music.

"Anyone can dance, and it's such a joyful thing to do," says Betul Hatipoglu, MD, of the Cleveland Clinic.. "Just put on some country music and start moving your body to the music." Think you can't dance? Sign up for lessons with your partner and learn to tap, tango, or do hip hop.

Hop on a bicycle.

Hatipoglu suggests arranging to meet a friend on a regular basis and ride together. You're a lot less likely to cancel your biking plans if you've already committed to meet someone to go with you.

Make your walk count.

Instead of a leisurely stroll, step it up to a very brisk walk that will hopefully get your heart rate up, says Michelle Morgan, RD, of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill-Cornell Medical Center in New York City. "Take a hilly path, if possible," she says. "Increase your walking pace or jog for part of it, if you can." (Before starting any exercise regimen, check with your physician.)

Invest in a workout DVD.

You can use it for 20 minutes when you get home from work, says Shannon Weston, RD, MPH, LD, of the University of Texas Health and Science Center at Houston. "Proof that you don't even need to join the gym to get a good workout," she says.

Find ways in your everyday life to burn extra calories.

"Instead of pushing the cart at the grocery store, use a handheld basket to make the errand a weight bearing activity," Weston suggests. Taking a call at the office? Move around the room instead of sitting in a chair.

Take walking breaks.

If you usually spend a lunch hour sitting, meet up with some colleagues and go for a daily half-hour "wellness walk," suggests Weston.

Try interval training.

This suggestion comes from Alysia Gadson, a personal trainer who runs a free-of-charge fitness and nutrition program. Climb up and down the same flight of stairs over and over for 10 minutes. Rest briefly, then repeat. "This challenges you to bring up your heart rate," Gadson explains. "Of course, if you feel unwell while exercising you should always stop and then talk to your doctor."

Jump rope.

It's inexpensive, portable, can be done anywhere, and really gets your heart rate up, Gadson says. And it's a great, calorie-incinerating exercise that doesn't take a long time.

Jump in!

Swimming is another quickie workout that is great for those with knee problems and can be done in less than half an hour. Swim a lap or two as fast as you can, then stop and swim more slowly, and then pick up the pace with another fast lap or two.

Alysia Gadson reviewed this ariticle.



"Brief workouts are just as good for weight loss." December 2012. Diabetes Forecast.