By now I’m sure you’ve seen or heard the news that “one minute of intense exercise may be as good as 45 minutes of moderate exercise.” The headline of the article is pure clickbait and it has traveled across all news outlets, print and TV alike.
C’mon, who wouldn’t be curious about it? Admit it: We want to get more by doing less.
For many people, time, or lack there of, is a big reason workouts get pushed to the back burner. But the claim that just one minute of intense exercise produces health benefits similar to longer, steady workouts seemingly counters those “excuses.”
Now, while I’m no health professional, the headline definitely caught my eye(s)…and then made me roll them.
A little background on the study….researchers monitored the exercise of three groups of men: one control group who continued their normal exercise (virtually non-existent), one group who rode on the stationary bike for 45 minutes at a moderate pace, and one group who did a tabata-like workout on the bike for a total of 10 minutes, with 1 minute being all-out intensity. All rode 3 days a week for 12 weeks. The conclusion: “When the scientists retested the men’s aerobic fitness, muscles and blood-sugar control now, they found that the exercisers showed virtually identical gains, whether they had completed the long endurance workouts or the short, grueling intervals.” (source)
So, for starters, the headline is misleading as the “one-minute” workout group actually exercised for a total of 10 minutes. Still, 10 minutes is a lot less than 45 minutes.
Here’s my opinion, not as a fitness professional (because I’m not) but as lover of exercise: don’t get so caught up in the length of time. Instead, think about your why. Why do you exercise? Is it all for the heart benefits? Is it for the endorphins?? The social atmosphere? Aesthetic reasons? Mental clearing? If you are really strapped for time and can only afford 10 minutes to sweat then, by all means, this study is great news.
I’m a big believer that there is room for a variety of exercise intensities and durations in our lives. A quick Monday morning HIIT, a long run on Saturday, a leisurely bike ride with family, a sweat-dripping lifting session, a relaxing yoga class…those ALL count. When it comes to cardio, I think that 26 minutes of intervals on the treadmill at Orange Theory produce the same, if not more, cardiovascular benefits as an hour-long run. However, I’m not going to give up one for the other. Running is part of my lifestyle, and I don’t (always) want to rush through it. Plus, the high-intensity ALL-OUT stuff the research is talking about is probably not healthy for everyone right off the bat, especially if they aren’t being supervised by a trainer. Short workouts CAN be effective, but it’s what you put into it that counts.
Exercise should fit into your life in a fun(ish) way, that’s how it becomes sustainable after all! But, if you’re always consumed and overwhelmed by fitting in time at the gym, then hopefully this article will show you that long workouts don’t necessarily equal results.
Again, just from my perspective as an exercise-devotee. Kind of random for a Wednesday but it was on my mind.