Day 19 of my self care and I am doing one of my favorite pick me ups, a Tabata. A tabata is a type of high intensity interval training that follows a specific format: 20 seconds of a very high intensity exercise (e.g., sprints) 10 seconds of rest. Repeat 8 times for a total of 4 minutes. Dr. Izumi Tabata was a speed skating coach using this protocol in a 1996 study to see if he could improve his athletes performance. The studies did indeed show impressive improvements in both the aerobic and anaerobic systems of his athletes. In one study the 4 minute tabata versus the 40 minute workout, the 4 minute tabata had the same aerobic output as the 40 minute workout, but the tabata had better anaerobic output and better fat loss. Tabatas get metabolism fired up! I love the idea that a 4 minute workout can get better results than a 40 minute session. I love the efficiency of it. 4 minutes is not that long and can fit into my day in all kinds of ways! I can also talk myself into a 4 minute workout. Sometimes I do the same exercise for all 8 sets, sometimes I do 2 or 4 different exercises in the tabata or sometimes I do a different exercise variation for each set. I love how versatile the tabata is. If you are working out with a friend or a group you can let each person choose the exercise for the next set. It keeps you on your toes. Any exercise works, but it is good to choose a full body exercise and then do it with intensity. I interpret “intensity” to mean going as hard as I can go and not lose proper form which keeps my body safe. Today I did a plank tabata with a different plank variation for each set. 1st set: top of the push up plank, 2nd set: front of the elbow plank, 3rd set: top of the push up with right arm up, 4th set: top of the push up with left arm up, 5th set: top of push up with right leg up, 6th set; top of push up with left leg up, 7th set: top of push up with right arm and left leg up, 8th set: top of push up with left arm and right leg up. Whew. In four minutes I have worked out my whole body, improved my balance, and totally given your mood a lift. I always feel so much better when I am done. There are free tabata apps that can be downloaded to your computer or smart phone. A tabata is great for what ails you: tired? do a tabata, anxious? do a tabata, grumpy? do a tabata…a tabata is a 4 minute mood lifting, game changer!