Have a Minute? Then You Have Time for a Workout

D-briefBy Carl EngelkingNov 7, 2014 2:04 AM


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Leave it to science to invalidate the excuse that there’s just not enough time in the day for a workout. In May, the New York Times

published a story about the scientifically proven 7-minute workout routine to stay fit. But who has seven minutes? Now, scientists have discovered that just one minute of all-out, high-intensity exercise three times a week can markedly improve muscle and heart health in overweight individuals.

180 Seconds Per Week

Researchers from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada recruited 14 men and women who were overweight, but in good health, to test the expedited fitness regimen. All the participants regularly exercised two or fewer times per week, and were far from reaching the recommended 150 minutes of weekly moderate exercise. Researchers recorded participants' baseline health information and took blood and muscle samples. Then, they put participants on a 6-week training regimen. During the training period, researchers individually customized each person's diet using a mathematical formula to calculate their required calories — roughly 2,600 calories for men and 1,800 calories for women. Participants returned to the lab three times a week for a supervised training session. Each workout consisted of 3 sets of all-out cycling against resistance for 20 seconds separated by 2 minutes of low intensity cycling. Each session also included a 2-minute warm-up and a 3-minute cool-down. Therefore, the weekly regimen involved a total of 3 minutes of all-out pedaling, and an ultimate time commitment of 30 minutes per week if you include warm-ups and cool-downs.

Seeing Results

It turns out that just 1 minute of intense exercise three times a week for 6 weeks was potent enough to induce physiological changes in the bodies of 14 overweight people, based on measurements following their workouts. Blood pressure and blood glucose readings for both men and women improved. Their bodies’ maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max) — one of the best measures of cardiovascular fitness — also increased by 12 percent. Researchers published their findings Monday in the online journal PLOS One.

Researchers write that their study "provides further evidence of the potential for very brief, intense bursts of exercise to elicit physiological adaptations that are associated with improved health status in a time-efficient manner." In other words: busy people, your cover is blown.

Photo credit: Vasiliy Koval/Shutterstock

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