A minute of exercise, forever off the hips

Young sporty woman training on exercise bike in the living room and watching tv

The age-old excuse of ‘I have no time’ is to exercise as the ‘the dog ate my homework’ is to school. It’s simply not true, most of the time anyway. Martin Gibala, a physiologist from McMaster University confirms that time is not the end-all and be-all for an exercise program to be effective.

In a study he conducted, it shows that a minute of high intensity exercise can give you the same benefit as you would from 45 minutes of a moderate workout. So, what can happen in a minute? A lot, if you’re an Olympian swimming the last lap trying to beat your opponent or the world record. If you’re like the rest of us, a minute of high intensity workout can be an option if you don’t have a lot of time for exercise.

Ok, so a minute of intense exercise does not literally mean 60 seconds of exercise from start to finish. It involves a routine that involves warming up, cooling down, and intervals. All in, it will take a total of 10 minutes of your time.

Gibala and his team applied a time-efficient workout strategy to a group of 27 men who typically did not exercise. They were divided into three groups; the ‘intense’ training group, the ‘moderate’ group and a control group that did not exercise at all.  They were made to follow an exercise program that involved three weekly sessions spread over a period of 12 weeks.

The ‘intense’ group had a sprint interval training (SIT) program, comprised of a 2-minute warm up on the bike, three 20-second cycle sprints, a 3-minute cool-down, and ends with 2 minutes of easy cycling. On the other hand, the ‘moderate’ group biked continuously at a moderate pace for 45 minutes three times a week.

During the 12 weeks of performing their respective programs, researchers examined the groups’ cardio-respiratory fitness and insulin sensitivity among other key health indicators. Despite the difference in the time spent for exercise, both the ‘intense’ and ‘moderate’ groups had similar results.

Based on the results, it seems that long-distance and endurance-style exercises give average benefits considering the time spent on them. Other studies have shown that extended excessive exercising can even have negative effects. Heart diseases have been reported  to develop in people doing this type of physical training. But scientists are quick to say that it’s not conclusive because there are those who train extensively and remain unaffected.

As with diets, people respond differently to different exercise programs. Scientists are divided, pending further studies, but some believe that a high impact, short interval exercise program is more effective – and more practical.

What we’re saying here is that it doesn’t take a lot of time to be on the road to fitness.

Do you have ten minutes to exercise? Yes, you do. Everyone does.

What’s your excuse? If you can’t think of one, then you better get on that bike or rev up your treadmill for a high impact ten-minute workout.




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