Can you spare a minute? If so, you can achieve a big improvement in fitness, says new research. An article published last month in the journal PLoS found that only 3 minutes of intense exercise a week increased muscle capacity and improved overall cardiac health. The 3 minutes were divided into 1-minute increments which were imbedded into three 10-minute exercise routines that included warm up and cool down for a total of 30 minutes a week of exercise.
The study is good news for people who have trouble fitting even short workouts into their busy lifestyles, says New York Times blogger Gretchen Reynolds. Even interval-training sessions that are considered short often take more time than many people can spare. For instance, four intervals of riding a stationary bike at top speed for 30 seconds followed by four minutes of easy pedaling preceded by a warm-up period and followed by a cool-down can easily add up to half a hour — too much time for many busy people.
Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster University in Ontario, wondered if a shorter workout could be effective. If so, how short? To answer the question, they studied 14 sedentary men and women who were overweight but healthy.
The volunteers completed sessions consisting of three intervals of 20 seconds each (for a minute total) where the participants pedaled as hard as possible on stationary bicycles, then pedaled slowly for two minutes. The entire workout, including warm up and cool down totaled 10 minutes.
After six weeks, the volunteers had increased their endurance by 12 percent, and had improved their cardiovascular fitness.
To read the entire New York Times article, go here.
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