You may now have no excuse not to exercise as researchers have found that a single minute of very intense exercise produces health benefits similar to 45 minutes of traditional endurance training. The findings put to rest the common excuse for not getting in shape – there is not enough time.
“This is a very time-efficient workout strategy,” said lead author on the study Martin Gibala, professor of kinesiology at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. “Brief bursts of intense exercise are remarkably effective,” Gibala said.
The scientists set out to determine how sprint interval training (SIT) compared to moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT), as recommended in public health guidelines. They examined key health indicators including cardiorespiratory fitness and insulin sensitivity, a measure of how the body regulates blood sugar.
A total of 27 sedentary men were recruited and assigned to perform three weekly sessions of either intense or moderate training for 12 weeks, or to a control group that did not exercise. The SIT protocol involved three 20-second ‘all-out’ cycle sprints and was found effective for boosting fitness. The workout totalled just 10 minutes, including a two-minute warm-up and three-minute cool down, and two minutes of easy cycling for recovery between the hard sprints.
The new study compared the SIT protocol with a group who performed 45 minutes of continuous cycling at a moderate pace, plus the same warm-up and cool down. After 12 weeks of training, the results were remarkably similar, showed the findings published online in the journal PLOS ONE.
“Most people cite ‘lack of time’ as the main reason for not being active,” Gibala said.
“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,” Gibala said.