When it comes to working out, pretty much everyone can agree that squeezing in a workout is better than not doing one at all. But is it better to do a long workout or a short one? The answer isn’t as obvious as you may think. Depending on the type of exercise you’re doing (and how you’re doing it), slaving away at the gym for hours on end is not necessarily the best approach. Does short trump long? Here are some factors to consider. Type Of Exercise The type of exercise you’re doing is largely going to determine whether you should shoot for a long or short workout. You might not be able to sprint for six miles, but maybe you can casually jog that distance. You’ll find that most yoga classes are at least one to one and a half hours long, and for good reason. Since this movement is generally slower and less rigorous than other forms of exercise, you need to do it for longer to get the most out of it. Pilates, on the other hand, might only last for 30 or 45 minutes. The exercises involved with this are generally more difficult than with yoga. Intensity The more intense your workout is, the shorter it’s probably going to be. But with the advent of high-intensity interval training (or HIIT), that might be just fine. As the name suggests, HIIT alternates short bursts of full-on intensity (i.e. sprinting as fast as you can for one minute) with longer periods of less intense work (three minutes of walking). Some HIIT workouts last as little as five minutes, and very few exceed 45. If you’re doing a longer workout, you’re not going to be spending much time in the anaerobic zone (the kind where you can hardly breathe and you feel like you might fall over at any moment). HIIT pushes you there, albeit briefly, resulting in a shorter workout that can be even more powerful than a longer one. Fitness Goals As long as you’re working out, you’re on the right track. But your fitness goals should really be determining the length of your workout. Shorter workouts (when done properly) can actually be more effective than long ones in torching calories and losing weight. If those are goals you’re hoping to achieve, you might want to give HIIT a try (especially if you’ve hit a plateau with longer workouts). That said, maybe you’re not necessarily trying to lose weight. Maybe you want to become more flexible or increase your stamina. Longer workouts certainly have a place within these goals. And if doing two hours of yoga soothes your soul, or going on long runs slows your busy brain, even better! These types of workouts can be deeply therapeutic for the mind, too. The key is to vary your workouts, and make sure when you’re exercising for longer stretches, you’re not overdoing it. Allow the intensity and type of workout you’re doing to determine its length – but most importantly, always listen to your body!