Fit in 60 Seconds

Regular physical activity and exercise offer a laundry list of amazing, indisputable health benefits. Simply put, regular physical activity can positively impact nearly every aspect of life and every system of the body.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, regular physical activity and exercise are associated with numerous physical and mental health benefits in men and women. All-cause mortality is delayed by regularly engaging in physical activity.

Exercise and physical activity decrease the risk of developing CHD, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer (e.g., colon and breast cancers). Exercise and physical activity:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improve lipoprotein profile, C-reactive protein, and other CHD biomarkers
  • Enhance insulin sensitivity and carbohydrate tolerance
  • Play an important role in weight management
  • Preserve bone mass and reduces the risk of falling
  • Play an important role in the prevention of and improvement in mild to moderate depressive disorders and anxiety
  • Enhance feelings of energy, well-being, quality of life, and cognitive function
  • Is associated with a lower risk of cognitive decline and dementia

See, I told you there was a laundry list of amazing health benefits.

Unfortunately, most people don’t move nearly enough, and research suggests that lack of physical activity is a significant determinant of the overall rise in obesity amongst adults and adolescents. When I ask folks why they don’t exercise, undoubtedly, the number one reason that they give me is that they “don’t have time.”

Fair enough considering that many believe that it takes hours and hours and hours of exercise to obtain benefit. Even the CDC says that adults need 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity aerobic activity to achieve “substantial benefits.”

Guess what? Emerging evidence suggests that you can get as much benefit—if not more—by exercising at higher intensities for as little as 10 minutes, three times per week. You read that correctly: 30 minutes a week, which is 80% less than what you may have been previously led to believe.

In a brand new study published in the journal PLOS ONE, a group of researchers from McMaster University found that 1 minute of intense exercise (within a 10-minute timeframe) performed three times per week was equally effective at improving markers of cardiorespiratory fitness, insulin sensitivity, and levels of mitochondria (the energy “powerhouses” of muscle cells) compared to traditional aerobic training (i.e., 50-minute workouts performed three times per week) despite a 5-fold lower time commitment.

In the study, the interval workout was performed on stationary bicycles and looked like this:

  • 2-minute warmup
  • 20-second all-out sprint (literally, all-out)
  • 2-minute recovery (i.e., light cycling)
  • 20-second all-out sprint
  • 2-minute recovery
  • 20-second all-out sprint
  • 3-minute cooldown

That’s literally 1 minute of intense activity: Fit in 60 seconds! While the study involved the use of a stationary bike, this type of workout could also be performed on a rowing machine or running at a track or up a hill.

Lead author of the study, Professor Martin Gibala (who’s championed research on time-efficient workout strategies) said, “Most people cite ‘lack of time’ as the main reason for not being active. 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.”