I work out regularly, at least an hour at the gym at a time, so when I hear about these studies that say much shorter, but more intense bursts of exercise work just as well as, say, half an hour on the treadmill, I get a little irritated. You mean I'm busting my butt at the gym while someone else runs for 30 seconds and we're getting the same benefits? That ain't fair. Of course, I could just change my routine and do the "intense bursts" thing too. But I won't. Because I don't believe it!!! Also, I like getting away from my apartment and my computer and having an hour to myself at the gym. But I can understand that there are people who simply can't find that time. So this latest study should come as good news to them. Apparently three minutes a week of intense exercise is all you really need to get the same effects of two-and-a-half hours of sweat a week. Apparently.
The latest study tracked a man's VO2 max levels -- which measures a person's aerobic fitness and is a good predictor of future health. The man, Vincent Graff, who wrote about his experiment for The Daily Mail, had his VO2 measured, as well as his blood pressure and weight, after four weeks of three minutes of intense exercise per week.
"Intense" meant going cycling full-on, as hard as he could possibly cycle, for 30 seconds, then slowly for three minutes, then quickly for 30 seconds again. Add in a three-minute warm-up at each end, and he cycled for 10 minutes total. Which is half of what I normally run at a moderate rate on the treadmill.
At the end of the four weeks, his VO2 levels had soared 10 percent -- on only 12 minutes of intense exercise for the month. His blood pressure dropped too. His weight remains the same.
Then Graff took a six-week exercise break. Then he did moderate but much longer exercise for four weeks -- 75 minutes a week running. After the allotted time, his blood pressure and VO2 dropped again, and he lost two pounds. But he didn't feel like all of the extra work was worth the gains in health -- so he'll stick to the regime of short exercise.
No one is ever going to convince me that three minutes of exercise a week is going to tighten and tone your body. Plus, I like to add in weight training, stretching, and ab work to my running, none of which is feasible when you're doing only three minutes a week.
However, if you simply do not have hours a week to exercise or you truly are one of those exercise haters who is never, ever going to join a gym no matter how much you know you should, then this is a pretty good option. It sounds like you still need to invest in a cycle or treadmill -- though running incredibly fast down your street might work too.
Would you work out three minutes a week?
Image via SophieA/Flickr