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Study: How to Get Fit in Just 1 Minute of Intense Exercise

Apr 28, 2016 12:34 PM EDT

The most common reason of many people who don't exercise regularly is the lack of time, but a new study shows that one minute of intense exercise can give the same benefits as the traditional seven-minute endurance training.

"Most people cite 'lack of time' as the main reason for not being active," said Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster and lead author on the study, in a statement.

The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, reveals that the sprint interval training (SIT), which means a few minutes of intense exercise per week, is able to produce similar benefits as the moderate-intensify continuous training (MICT).

The sprint interval training consisted of three 20-second "all-out" cycle sprints with two minutes low-intensity cycles in between sprints for recovery. It also includes two minutes of warm up and three minutes of cool down.

The moderate-intensify continuous training, on the other hand requires five times as much exercise and a five-fold greater time commitment.

For the study, researchers recruited 27 sedentary men to participate in the study. The participants were divided into three groups. Two groups were asked to perform three weekly fitness sessions, which includes SIT and MICT for 12 weeks. On the other hand, the third group didn't perform any kind of exercise during the study period and served as the control group.

Researchers compared the effectiveness and efficiency of the two training procedures by examining key health indicators such as cardio-respiratory fitness and insulin sensitivity, a measure of how the body regulates blood sugar.

After the 12-week experiment, researchers found out that a few minutes of intense exercise every week can produce the same results, which includes boosting of energy production and oxygen consumption in the muscle, as the longer, continuous workouts.

"This is a very time-efficient workout strategy," noted Gibala. "Brief bursts of intense exercise are remarkably effective."

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