With demanding jobs and busy personal lives, many people struggle to find a free hour to work out. But according to a new study, all they really need is one minute of intense exercise three times a week to see results.
A team of scientists from McMaster University in Canada found that one minute of very intense exercise produces similar results to longer, more traditional endurance training.
The study, published in the journal PLOS One, set out to determine if sprint interval training was a time-efficient exercise.
The scientists looked at whether it could improve insulin sensitivity and heart health to the same extent as typical moderate-intensity continuous training.
The scientists divided 27 sedentary men into two groups. One group performed three weekly sessions of sprint interval training. Their workout entailed three 20-second intense cycling sprints, followed by two minutes of slower cycling. The other group did 45 minutes of continuous, moderate-intensity cycling. Both groups began their workouts with a two-minute warm-up and three-minute cool-down.
Each of the groups followed the fitness routines for 12 weeks. The moderate-intensity workout involved five times as much exercise — and a five-fold greater time commitment — but led to the same results as sprint interval training. Men in both groups increased their oxygen uptake by 19 per cent, in addition to improving their insulin sensitivity and skeletal muscle content.
“Most people cite ‘lack of time’ as the main reason for not being active,” lead study author Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster, said in a statement. “Our study shows that an interval-based approach can be more efficient — you can get health and fitness benefits comparable to the traditional approach, in less time.”