You Might Be Exercising Longer Than You Need To

February 11th 2017

Nicole Levin

Don't have time to exercise? Well, as it turns out, it takes less than a half hour to get an effective workout — in fact, some now say you really only need a minute. 

Gym From Floor

More and more research has found that you can get the same benefits that a longer workout gives you from short bursts of intense physical activity — also referred to as high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Interval training can vary, but the basic idea is you alternate between periods of intense activity and periods of moderate activity or rest. 

And the research says the health benefits can be achieved in just 60 seconds.

A study led by physiologist Martin Gibala of McMaster University had participants sprint for a total of one minute three times a week. After six weeks (and only 18 total minutes of intense exercise), participants showed improved markers of health comparable to those who did 45 minutes straight of moderate exercise, including better muscle function, longer endurance, and lower blood pressure.  

To be clear, you might not burn as many calories by sprinting for a minute versus running for 45, but if you are looking to lose weight, exercise might not be enough on its own anyway; according to scientific research, diet is a larger contributor to weight control than exercise. Meanwhile, studies have also found that HIIT workouts are more effective at burning fat than conventional workouts. 

So how intense is a high-intensity workout? 

Gibala told The New York Times that you should push yourself out of your comfort zone and feel "some brief discomfort."

That said, going from the couch to full intensity can put you at risk for injuries. Gibala recommends that if you're older, or just starting out, you should start with gentler forms of interval training. Even interval walking helps regulate sugar better than slower, steadier walking. 

If you're looking for a HIIT workout that works for you, the internet is full of options, and most don't require a gym membership or any equipment. 


A workout can be as simple as sprinting for four minutes or running up the stairs during your lunch break. So there is no excuse to not sneak in a workout or, as Gibala puts it in his book, squeeze in some "exercise snacking."