Exercise has many great benefits—it helps you sleep, boosts brainpower, helps you lose weight, makes you happier—and yet it can still be pretty tempting (and easy) to talk ourselves out of that yoga class or date with the stair master. But what if you only had to work out hard for three minutes per week to get great health benefits?
Just 60 seconds of intense exercise during an otherwise easy 10-minute workout can make you healthier, according to a new study—and you only have to do it three times a week, for a total time commitment of 30 minutes over the course of seven days. Sound doable?
To arrive at this magic number, researchers first took muscle biopsies and measured aerobic endurance, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels in a group of sedentary and overweight men and women. Then they asked the volunteers to complete a stationary bicycle workout consisting of just 10 minutes of exercise: a warmup, three 20-second “all-out” intervals interspersed with easy pedaling, and a cool down. The volunteers did this three times a week for six weeks before being retested.
It turned out that just six weeks of 30 minutes of exercise per week—with just three minutes of intense intervals in a week—was enough to make a difference. The volunteers increased their endurance capacity by 12 percent and improved their blood pressure. Their muscles also showed higher levels of biochemical substances that increased the number of mitochondria, a marker of improved endurance and fitness. The male volunteers also showed better blood sugar control.
“We’ve dropped from 30-second all-out intervals to 20-second intervals,” researcher Martin Gibala told the New York Times, “because for many people those last 10 seconds were excruciating.”
The caveat with this study is that the participants were sedentary individuals, but still, it is important to note that any exercise is better than no exercise at all.
And 20-second intervals are also easy enough to work into your day without a gym membership—so no excuses to wait to start a workout routine until the new year. Incorporate a sprint into your morning walk, hit the stairs at home or at the office, even run in place during Hulu commercial breaks.
Link to original article here.