Three minutes of intense exercise can give you the same level of fitness as 45 minutes of more casual exercise (PLoS One, April 26, 2016;11(4):e0154075). Two groups of out-of-shape men exercised three times a week for 12 weeks. One group pedaled stationary bicycles for 45 minutes. The other group did the following 10-minute workout:
• warm up for two minutes on a stationary bicycle
• pedal as hard as possible for 20 seconds followed by very slow pedaling for two minutes (recovery)
• repeat the 20-second all-out pedaling followed by two minutes of slow recovery
• pedal all-out for the last 20-second sprint and then cool down for three minutes.
Both groups made the same improvements in fitness as measured by:
• Maximal amount of oxygen uptake (Vo2max) – 20 percent increase in both groups
• Insulin sensitivity index (to prevent diabetes) – more than 50 percent increase in both groups
• Skeletal muscle mitochondrial content also increased by the same amount, even though the intense exercise group worked out for only 10 minutes per session while the casual-exercise group’s workout took 45 minutes, or 4.5 times as long.
Benefits of Exercise
• Your fitness level determines, in part, your susceptibility for suffering heart attacks (Prog Cardiovasc Dis, 2014;56:382–90), diabetes, certain cancers and premature death (Ex and Spts Sci Reviews, 2017;45(1):7-15).
• Regular exercise helps to prevent many chronic diseases including type 2 diabetes (Can Med Assoc J, 2006;174: 801–809).
• High levels of fitness predict a long lifespan (Arch Int Med, 2012;172:1333-1340), and low levels of fitness predict a shortened lifespan (Circulation, 2008;117:614-622).
• Not exercising is the most common modifiable cause of chronic disease (Can Med Assoc J, 2006;174: 801–809).
• The most common excuse for not exercising is lack of time (Med Sci Sports Exerc, 2002;34: 1996–2001). This new study shows that ONE minute of intense exercise, in a regular program of ten-minute workouts, is enough to gain significant fitness benefits.
• Everyone should try to exercise every day because a high level of fitness helps to prevent disease and to prolong life.
• Intense exercise takes far less time than more casual exercise for the same health benefits.
• Caution: Always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program or making a sudden change in the intensity of your existing exercise program.