You wake up early, scurry to work, bring home the bacon, then hustle home to make dinner. So when do you have time for an effective workout — especially if you (understandably) want time to unwind?
Well, we've got good news for all those for whom a half hour daily work-out is out of the question: You can improve your fitness and health with just one minute of intense exercise only three times a week, according to a study published in PLOS ONE.
Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster University in Ontario, and his colleagues have conducted many of the most influential recent studies of high-intensity interval training, and they noticed that people were still seeking shorter training sessions. So they set out to figure out just how much people could minimize the time commitment while still reaping the health and fitness benefits.
For the study, the researchers recruited 14 sedentary and overweight — but otherwise healthy — men and women, because these types of people are commonly teetering on the edge of serious health issues, such as diabetes, which could be prevented with exercise.
Once the researchers took muscle biopsies, measured their aerobic endurance, blood pressures, and blood sugar levels, they had the volunteers complete a high-intensity interval training program using computerized stationary bicycles. Each session consisted of a two-minute warm-up, three 20-second intervals of "all-out" pedaling followed by two minutes of slow, easy pedaling, and a three-minute cool-down period — for a grand total of 10 minutes of exercise, with just one minute of high intensity.
The volunteers completed three of these sessions per week, leading to 30 minutes of weekly exercise for six weeks.
At the end of the study, the volunteers came back to the lab to be tested for a final time. And, as it turned out, their bodies had changed drastically.
The men and women had healthier blood pressures and more mitochondria, the power plants of cells, which meant better endurance. In fact, they increased their endurance capacity (or, as the researchers call it, peak oxygen uptake) by an average of 12%.
But while the blood sugar levels of males improved, those of women did not. The researchers believe there's a fundamental difference in how the two genders burn sugar during high-intensity interval training, and more research needs to be done to understand it.
It's also important to note that, though the exercise in this study took place on bicycles, your exercise need not be limited to cycling. Dr. Gibala said that running in place or up stairs is equally as effective.
So for all those who struggle to find time for it shouldn't be too hard to find 30 minutes out of your entire week to devote to your health. Think about it: You only need to take 10 minutes out of three days of your week. And out of those 10 minutes, you only need to put all your effort into one minute each session.
Now this seems like a resolution I could actually see myself sticking to — and feeling good about.
(h/t The New York Times)