In pharmacology, the Minimum Effective Dose (MED) is the minimum amount of a drug that produces a biological effect. This differs person to person, drug to drug, symptom to symptom. There will be days where you won’t want to get out of bed, won’t want to do your workout, won’t want to work. In these instances you need to figure out the MED of your “drug.”
A team of pharmacologists will spend years researching, testing and running experiments to find the MED. You’ll need to do the same. When you have no energy, doing 10 pressups might provide enough of a boost for you to gain momentum and get your brain ticking. You might need to run 2km. Or have 3 coffees. Or nap. You won’t know though until you test it.
As long as an activity produces your desired result, it’s better than doing nothing. If you’re hungry and want to remove that feeling, you might grab a McDonalds. Is that the best choice for your body? Will that provide you with the best nutrients? Is it the most cost effective option? These things don’t matter if you purely want to remove the sensation of hunger. You won’t do this for every meal but as conscious beings we have to determine when to use what tools for what job. There are many more arguments at play here too, whether the person should put more effort in to choosing a better meal, that they should be able to fend off the feeling of hunger etc etc. This isn’t the point in this instance. It’s simply hunger > food.
When it comes to being effective (by which I mean successful in producing the intended result,) you’ll want to make better decisions. If you’re working out because you specifically want bigger arms or a firmer butt, pick the 1-2 exercises that provide the most bang for buck. So when you don’t have the time or energy for the full workout, you can put your effort into these big money exercises. On these days, there is far greater value in putting the effort into the areas which will give you greater results and calling it a day than half-assing 2 hours of subtle variations achieving very little.
We often associate more with better. Running more does not mean you are necessarily becoming better at running. You are simply becoming better at running more. Very few achieve great things with casual time and effort but we all have off days. At these moments, we may only need a little push of momentum to get back into that groove, or at least into a better groove. That’s where you need the Minimum Effective Dose.