Is one minute of exercise all you need?

Story highlights

  • High-intensity exercise for one minute could have health benefits similar to 45 minutes of moderate exercise
  • The quick and vigorous workout may also be just as effective at promoting weight loss
  • People at risk of heart disease should talk with their doctors before starting high-intensity training

(CNN)If someone told you that you could get a full workout in the same amount of time it takes you to make a cup of tea or take out the trash, would you believe them?

It sounds like a dubious exercise regimen promoted on a late-night infomercial, but there is actual science behind it. A recent study suggests that one minute of vigorous exercise can be just as effective for improving health as 45 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise.
Researchers asked nine previously sedentary young men to do one total minute of high-intensity cycling on a stationary bike three times a week for 12 weeks. The minute was broken down into three 20-second bursts of maximum effort, with two-minute recovery periods of moderate-intensity cycling in between.
    Another group of 10 men undertook a more traditional workout consisting of 45 minutes of continuous, moderate-intensity cycling three times a week, and six men did not exercise at all.
    At the end of 12 weeks, the researchers found similar gains between the high-intensity and moderate-intensity groups, compared with the no-exercise group, in terms of better blood sugar control and improved endurance and muscle function.