WEDNESDAY, April 27, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Couch potatoes, there are no more excuses.
New research from Canada contends that just one minute of high-intensity exercise can boost your health as much as 45 minutes of a moderate workout. That means you can't claim that you don't have enough time to get in shape.
"Most people cite 'lack of time' as the main reason for not being active," said study author Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. "Our study shows that an interval-based [intense] approach can be more efficient -- you can get health and fitness benefits comparable to the traditional approach, in less time."
The study included 27 inactive men who were randomly assigned to do either intense or moderate workouts three times a week for 12 weeks, or to a control group that did not exercise.
The intense exercise was so-called sprint interval training, which involved three 20-second "all out" sprints on exercise bikes. It also included a two-minute warmup, a three-minute cool-down, and two minutes of easy cycling for recovery between the intense sprints. Total time: 10 minutes per workout.
The men in the moderate workout group did 45 minutes of continuous cycling at a moderate pace, plus the same warmup and cool-down as those in the sprint interval group.
After 12 weeks, both exercise groups had similar measures of heart/lung fitness and insulin sensitivity, a measure of how the body regulates blood sugar.
Interval-based training "is a very time-efficient workout strategy. Brief bursts of intense exercise are remarkably effective," Gibala said in a university news release.
"The basic principles apply to many forms of exercise. Climbing a few flights of stairs on your lunch hour can provide a quick and effective workout. The health benefits are significant," he added.
The study findings were published online April 27 in the journal PLoS One
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers a guide to physical activity.