If your excuse for not working out is that you're too busy and don't have the time, well, you're about to need a new excuse, lazy. That's because researchers have announced an incredibly exciting new finding: just one minute of intense exercise provides the same health benefits as 45 minutes of a moderate workout. In other words, it's time to get off your ass. It'll only take a minute.
Here's what you need to know: A new study from researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, found that out-of-shape guys who did one minute of high-intensity exercise saw the same health improvements -- their aerobic fitness, their ability to regulate blood sugar, and their muscle functions -- as out-of-shape guys who did 45 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise over the course of a three-month experiment, according to a report by The New York Times. Essentially, the study suggests that workouts involving short intervals of super strenuous exercise followed by lighter exercise -- repeated -- resulted in the the same benefits as a longer, less strenuous workout, but best of all, in a fraction of the time.
If you've ever subjected yourself to the abuse of a personal trainer, your probably know that such workouts are part of a technique called high-intensity interval training (HIIT). In the study, 25 men were divided into three groups: one assigned to an interval workout on an exercise bike, one that was asked to complete moderate workouts on an exercise bike, and one that was told to continue the virtually non-existent exercise routine (the control group). Specifically, the interval group warmed up on the bikes for two minutes, pedaled as hard as they could, and repeated that before cooling down for three minutes, for a total of 10 minutes. After all three groups completed their routines three times a week for 12 weeks, the researchers measured their physical fitness and event biopsied their muscle tissues to determine the results, per the report.
Ultimately, the findings suggest that the excruciating bursts of exercise aren't better than longer periods of moderate exercise, but you'll end up getting the same payoff in less time. Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster University who led the new study, summarized it best in the Times report:
"If you are an elite athlete, then obviously incorporating both endurance and interval training into an overall program maximizes performance," he said. "But if you are someone, like me, who just wants to boost health and fitness and you don’t have 45 minutes or an hour to work out, our data show that you can get big benefits from even a single minute of intense exercise."
So, what's your excuse now?
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Tony Merevick is Cities News Editor at Thrillist and has already freaked out a few co-workers by breaking into an intense workout at his desk. Send news tips to email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.