Two-minutes of high intensity exercise is just as beneficial as half-an-hour at the gym, new study finds

Sorry, lack of time is no longer an excuse to skip a workout

Sarah Young
Friday 28 September 2018 16:33 BST
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Glute workout for sitting down days with Shona Vertue

If your usual excuse for skipping the gym is that you don’t have enough time, you’re going to need to find a new one because, apparently, all you need to get your fitness in check is 120 seconds.

HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts – a series of short bursts of intense exercise broken up by brief periods of rest – are a rising star in the fitness world and have been proven to aid weight loss, speed up your metabolism and keep your body burning fat up to 24 hours after you’ve finished exercising.

Typically, these kinds of sessions typically consist of quick-burst style workouts that last for approximately half an hour.

But now new research has discovered that just a couple of minutes of exercising as hard as you can might be just as good for you as a longer workout.

Researchers from Victoria University in Australia recruited asked participants to take part in three exercise sessions of different intensities over a period of weeks, with seven days or more of rest in between.

For one, the participants cycled continuously for 30 minutes at 50 per cent peak effort, while another workout involved five four-minute cycling sessions at 75 per cent effort, separated by one-minute of rest.

The final test involved four 30-second cycling sprints at 100 per cent peak effort with a four and a half minute resting period in between.

After each session, the researchers calculated exactly how much energy they expended by comparing a muscle biopsy taken from each participant’s thigh before, immediately after, and three hours post workout.

The results, published in the American Journal of Physiology, found that the mitochondria – organelles that mix oxygen and food to generate energy – in the riders’ thigh muscles were almost identical between the quick sprint and the longest session.

This indicates that a two-minute workout at a high intensity could yield the same results as half an hour of moderate exercise.

“This suggests that exercise may be prescribed according to individual preferences while still generating similar signals known to confer beneficial metabolic adaptions,” the study authors write.

“These findings have important implications for improving our understanding of how exercise can be used to enhance metabolic health in the general population."

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