No more excuses. Even one minute of exercise has benefits

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Exciting research has discovered you can still benefit from as little as one minute of exercise. Personal trainer Andrew Cate explains why you can no longer say that you don't have the time to workout.

Finding the time to exercise
As more people feel increased time constraints from work, family, social and other commitments, our health can take a back seat. Lack of time is a common excuse when it comes to avoiding exercise. 

The good news is that you don't have to allocate large chunks of time. 

Brief bursts of exercise can be used when time is limited, and the greater the intensity, the more calories to you will burn. 

These intense bursts of effort only need to be relatively short (20 seconds) to be beneficial. 

It may also be easier to motivate yourself to exercise knowing your workout is not going to last long, which is ideal for beginners, or people who just find exercise a chore. 

WATCH: Move your way to better wellbeing

The research

Recent research published online in PLoS Medicine (the Public Library of Science) examined the benefits of sprint interval training- exercise characterised by brief intermittent bursts of relatively intense exercise separated by periods of low-intensity exercise for recovery.

Study participants trained around 3 times per week over 12 weeks. One group performed interval training, including three 20 second all out sprints spread out over 10 minutes, while another group exercised at a moderate intensity for 50 minutes.  

The results demonstrated the both groups achieved similar benefits in various measures of health and fitness, including insulin sensitivity, cardiorespiratory fitness, and muscle cell adaptations. 

The one striking difference between the groups was that duration that the sprint interval group exercised for was five times less in total. 

It is important to note that the subjects in this study were mostly untrained, and more research is needed to determine if these same benefits extend to trained, aerobically fit participants.

How to incorporate sprint intervals into your training routine

The study participants used the following training protocol:
  • 2 minutes - Warm up
  • 20 seconds - All out 100% effort cycling
  • 2 minutes - Active rest (cycling very slowly at 10 - 20% effort)
  • 20 seconds - All out 100% effort cycling
  • 2 minutes - Active rest (cycling very slowly at 10 - 20% effort)
  • 20 seconds - All out 100% effort cycling
  • 3 minutes - Cool down by cycling slowly and stretching
This training format was performed three times a week. Some other points to take away from this study:
  • You do have the time! The total duration of the workout is 10 minutes, although it's only a total of 60 seconds all-out effort, or 3 minutes a week. Lack of time is no longer an excuse
  • There's more than one way to sprint - There are many different ways to perform sprint intervals, including cycling, skipping, swimming, paddling, running, stair climbing, boxing and cardiovascular based exercise machines
  • Ease into it - While it is great for beginners to know that they don't need to train for long periods of time to improve their health, you can't instantly transform from couch potato to athlete. Ease into a training program like this over a few weeks, and scale back your all-out efforts in the first handful of workouts. If you have any concerns, speak to a health professional

Soource: PLOS ONE | DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0154075 April 26, 2016