No More Excuses: Just One Minute of Intense Exercise May Be All You Need

Rachel Krause

There are so many ways to justify skipping the gym, and time constraints are just one of them— locking down 30 minutes or an hour of your day to hit up a $35 barre class or get acquainted with the treadmill is a commitment. But new research out of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, has found that just one minute of “all-out” exertion may have the same benefits as 45 minutes of more moderate exercise. Impatient types and begrudging gym-goers, rejoice.

The 12-week study recruited 27 sedentary men, some of whom were assigned sprint interval training (SIT) and others assigned moderate intensity continuous training (MICT). SIT entails three 20-second “all-out” cycle sprints, a 2-minute warmup, a 3-minute cool down, and two minutes of easy cycling between the sprints for a total of ten minutes, whereas the 50-minute MICT method required 45 minutes of consistent moderate-pace cycling with a 2-minute warmup and 3-minute cool down.

Researchers found that the training methods produced extremely similar results as far as cardiac health and insulin sensitivity despite the dramatic difference in actual time spent exercising. “Most people cite ‘lack of time’ as the main reason for not being active,” says Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster and the lead author on the study, “[but] brief bursts of intense exercise are remarkably effective.”

So instead of forcing yourself to spend half an hour plugging away at the elliptical at a medium pace, hop on the bike and give it a ten-minute go instead for the same fitness results. Uh, best news ever?