Done with your workout in one minute. Sounds too good to be true? Well, the New York Times recently reported on a study that showed that one minute of high intensity exercise conferred the same benefit as 45-minutes of moderate exercise. The “one minute workout” is a bit of a misnomer since the total workout is ten minutes, one of which is high intensity and the rest is a warm up, cool down, or “active rest” period. However, that still means you could get the same health benefit in a quarter of the time!
Sign me up, Scotty. With the littles, I barely have time to change into my workout clothes before someone needs something. Even a quick 30 minute yoga video is quickly frustrated by an early nap-riser, so anything I can do to cut down the time is high on my agenda. But does it work?
Using exercise bikes, the researchers had one group do the ten minute high intensity interval training workout (HIIT) three times a week: a two minute warm up, 20 seconds of pedaling as hard as possible (later described by the Times as a 9.5 on a scale of 1-10), two minutes of slow pedaling, 20 more seconds going flat out, two more minutes slow, a final twenty seconds flat out, and a three minute cool down, for a total of ten minutes. A second group exercised moderately (an 8 out of 10 intensity) for 45 minutes three times a week, and a control group did nothing.
At the end of twelve weeks, the HIIT and moderate exercisers showed the same improvement in aerobic fitness, muscle health, and blood sugar control against the control group. (Weight loss was not studied.) So that means that at the end of the twelve weeks, the HIIT group had ridden for 21 hours less than the moderate exercise group and shown the same improvement in health!
Time for my highly unscientific anecdotal test. The study used exercise bikes as that is an easy way to objectively measure intensity. But I hate sweating so I tried it for a few weeks with my lap swimming. Using my Apple Watch, I measured my average heart rate and calorie burn during twice weekly ten minute HIIT swimming sessions. I compared that to previous twenty minute moderate exertion swimming sessions. I found my average heart rate was roughly the same in both the HIIT and moderate sessions, while my calorie burn was counted as a third lower in the HIIT sessions.
So my heart got worked about the same, and I was exercising half as much, but only had a third less calorie burn. That seems like a pretty good deal to me. Also, I felt better after the HIIT sessions. My muscles felt spent and I had more exercise endorphins after the HIIT sessions than the moderate sessions.
The HIIT sessions were also more fun. During my moderate swimming sessions, I found myself getting bored, struggling to do “one more lap.” In fact, I haven’t been able to break much past that twenty minute barrier because of boredom. With HIIT though, I had something to focus on. I knew I would do two slow laps to warm up, then a super hard half lap, slow it back down for two laps, super hard half lap etc. The act of counting my laps and constantly changing my pace kept my laps interesting.
As for weight loss, I haven’t noticed any change in my waistline with either work out. For me, both the moderate and the HIIT workouts maintained my weight, but weren’t effective for weight loss. At least not while I maintain my ice cream & cookie habit (stay tuned for a quitting sugar post if I ever get the guts!).
In sum, If you need to lose weight, HIIT should probably be combined with strength training, extended to a longer than 10-minute total workout, and combined with a nutrition plan. But if you just need to maintain your weight, and are looking to get many of the health benefits of exercise in less time, the ten minute HIIT is a great program. A program that I will definitely keep doing!
How do you find time to work out? Have you tried HIIT or do you have a classic program you love? Let me know in the comments and please share this post with your friends if you found it useful!
*UPDATE: I’ve been doing the One Minute Workout for over 6 months and I’ve lost 20 lbs! It definitely works combined with a healthy diet (See my blog posts under the Nutrition category for more about that). I winterized my workout by doing a leg blaster routine for skiing and I found it worked great. Hope it works for you too!
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