One-Minute Workouts Get You Fit, Says Science

Keep hitting snooze—a new study shows that one minute of high-intensity training is all it takes to improve aerobic health.

By Maya Seaman April 29, 2016

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Image: Shutterstock

As convenient as exercise studios try to be—offering everything from 6 a.m. classes to quick, lunchtime sessions complete with childcare—sometimes squeezing in a 60-minute workout just doesn’t, well, work out. But what about one minute? A recent study conducted by McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario concluded that just one minute of high-intensity exercise can have similar health benefits as a moderate 45-minute workout.

Detailed in a recent New York Times article, the study examined the fitness results of “25 out-of-shape young men” prescribed one of three stationary bike routines. One group did nothing, one group followed a moderately paced, 45-minute routine, and the third rocked an interval regimen that, with warm-up and cool down, totaled 10 minutes—and only one minute of that was high-intensity, sprint-paced pedaling. After 12 weeks, both active groups presented similar gains in aerobic fitness levels, muscle function, and insulin resistance. The control group that did nothing (obviously) gained nothing.

So consider this the last time you blame your snooze button for missing that Pilates class and resolving to another day of doing nothing; in terms of helping your body maintain a healthy fitness level, you’re out of excuses. Work near one of Portland’s many bridges? Run the stairs. Live on a residential street? Pound the pavement. Crammed into a tiny apartment? One word: Burpees. Just follow this basic routine:

2-minute warm-up
20 seconds maximum effort
2 minutes slow-to-median pace
20 seconds maximum effort
2 minutes slow-to-median pace
20 seconds maximum effort
3-minute cool down

That’s it. You’ll still have time to towel off, eat lunch, and kill time on social media before getting back to work, knowing that the hardest minute of your day is behind you.

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