Less than 20 percent of American adults meet the federal guidelines for aerobic and muscle-building exercise. Those guidelines call for 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity with muscle-strengthening exercises at least two days per week.
But little bursts of intense activity may offer the same health benefits as a lengthy gym session.
"The ratio is about two to one, so if you have 15 or 20 minutes and you're intense, the equivalent of that is about 40 minutes of exercise, so short bursts make a difference," Dr. Jordan Metzl, who practices sports medicine at New York's Hospital for Special Surgery, told "CBS This Morning" Wednesday.
Dr. Metlz defines "intense" exercises as those during which you're breathing so hard you can barely talk.
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"The best way are things called plyometrics, and these are kind of rapid, muscle elongation and contraction cycles," Dr. Metlz explained. Some examples include squats, running, push-ups, climbing stairs, jumping jacks and burpees.
Planks are an example of "isometrics," which Dr. Metlz said are "good" but are not intense because they do not boost the heart rate.
Over the long run, people can benefit from both, he said. "The longer exercise periods of time are great for kind of ramping up your metabolic furnace and burning calories. And then the short bursts make a big difference too, and they activate muscle in a different way."
According to Dr. Metzl, social apps and health tracking devices can also help monitor your health.
"Tracking your fitness, using social apps, building social communities all make a difference in terms of making people more compliant," Dr. Metzl said. "The apps, the tracking devices make people more accountable."
The "CBS This Morning" co-hosts started a 24-hour "Daily Showdown" on Fitbit on Tuesday, April 26. Check back to follow their progress.