"Not enough time" is our biggest excuse for not exercising. A recent study suggests, however, that you can maintain your fitness or improve your health in just four minutes. That's right, four.
Photo by sanchom.
As the New York Times reports, researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology compared the effects of doing four four-minute high intensity intervals (running at 90 per cent of maximal heart rate) with doing just one four-minute session. The volunteers, a group of 26 overweight and sedentary (but otherwise healthy) middle-age men, did these tests three times a week for 10 weeks. The result: Both groups had the same health benefits, whether they exercised for 16 minutes or just four per session:
At the end of the program, the men had increased their maximal oxygen uptake, or endurance capacity, by an average of 10 per cent or more, with no significant differences in the gains between the two groups.
Metabolic and cardiovascular health likewise had improved in both groups, with almost all of the men now displaying better blood sugar control and blood pressure profiles, whether they had exercised vigorously for 16 minutes per session, or four minutes per session, and despite the fact that few of the men had lost much body fat.
The key, as with the 7-minute workout, is to get your heart rate up, but you can do that, the researchers say by sprinting up multiple flights of stairs or even walking very briskly.
While four-minute workouts aren't enough if you want to lose weight, it's good to know that even if you don't have 20 minutes a day to spare, running after your kid for four minutes could be enough to keep you fit.
And, before you ask, no, the researchers say it's probably not likely you'll be able to get the same benefits from 3 or fewer minutes of exercise. Oh well, at least we can get away with just four.
The 4-Minute Workout [The New York Times]