Is it hard to find an hour to work out? Has your busy schedule forced you to skip those 30 minute daily walks that your doctor recommended? Don’t despair! New research shows that you can get a life-changing improvement in your fitness level with only a five minute daily workout!
OK, so this is going to be a tough sell for most of us. The accepted wisdom holds that you need at least 40 minutes of exercise five days a week to reach any sort of fitness. There have been countless scientific studies showing the health benefits that accrue from 150 minutes of mild exercise, or half that time spent doing strenuous exercise. But, really, five minutes a day? How can that be true?
You have probably heard about high intensity interval training (HIIT). That workout technique focuses on short periods of really intense exercise, followed by brief recovery periods. Some researchers at the McMaster University in Ontario, Canada took the HIIT concept to its logical extreme.
The scientists studied the positive medical changes that resulted from a mere three-minute HIIT routine. They found that their volunteers saw improvements equivalent to spending 90-120 minutes riding a bike, from a brief 3-minute series of bike sprints. The volunteers spent 30 seconds pedaling at the highest rate possible, followed by a brief recovery period, repeating until the three minutes elapsed.
At the end of the study, the scientists found that the volunteer who followed the ultra-short HIIT bike workout experienced the same healthful improvements compared to a control group who spent 90 to 120 minutes riding a bike in a leisurely manner.
What does that mean for us? If you are jammed for time, maybe this extreme version of HIIT exercise could be right for you. The brief periods of exercise really will hurt, though. To be effective, you must drive yourself to the limit of your performance repeatedly over the five minutes. Just phoning it in won’t deliver the desired results. Some of us can take that on. Many of us can’t bring on the pain like that, at least after a few days.
At least you now have an alternative to consider when you just “don’t have time to exercise.”