HAMILTON, Ontario, April 27 (UPI) --
One single minute of hard exercise can have as positive a health benefit as 45 minutes of moderate exercise, according to a study in Canada.
Researchers at the McMaster University found the minute-long exercise regimen, with proper stretching and warm-ups, is more than enough to accomplish what many exercisers put much more time into.
"Most people cite 'lack of time' as the main reason for not being active," Dr. Martin Gibala, a professor kinesiology at McMaster University, said in a press release. "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."
For the study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers recruited 27 sedentary men who practiced one of two exercise regimens for 12 weeks: Either the SIT protocol, which includes three 20-second "all-out" cycle sprints with two minutes of slow-down in between, or the MICT protocol with 45 minutes of continuous cycling. Both workouts had two-minute warm-up and three-minute cool-down periods.
Peak oxygen uptake increased in both groups by 19 percent, insulin sensitivity was improved in both groups by about the same, and muscle content also increased about the same in both groups during the 12-week study, the researchers report.
Researchers say the short-burst theory of exercise is as effective as a larger plan, but that people do not even need a gym or bicycle to get the minute-long hard workout.
"The basic principles apply to many forms of exercise," Gibala said. "Climbing a few flights of stairs on your lunch hour can provide a quick and effective workout. The health benefits are significant."