Researchers have proven that very short sprint intervals of intense cycling can yield impressive health and fitness benefits. This means it is possible to get fit in much less time than was previously thought.
It fact, it has been shown that it is possible to get just as fit in 30 minutes a week as in two and a half hours per week! This breaks down to three 10-minute workouts, as compared to three 50-minute workouts. No, it’s not another crazy get fit fad, and you don’t have to buy anything – it’s simply more proof of the enormous health and cardiovascular benefits of sprint interval training (i.e. exercise sessions that include very short bursts of very intense effort).
Scientists at McMaster University tested two groups of sedentary men. The first group did 3 cycling sessions per week of 50 minutes. This included 2 minutes to warm up, 45 minutes of moderate cycling, and 3 minutes of cool-down cycling.
The second group did 3 cycling sessions per week of 10 minutes. This included 2 minutes to warm up, and 3 minutes of cool-down cycling. In the other 5 minutes, the men did 3 x 20-seconds (yes, SECONDS) of all out sprints, interspersed with 2 minutes of easy cycling. So, in short, a total of just ONE MINUTE of high intensity sprints.
Really, I could have called this post “How to get fit in one minute” – but that would have been a little misleading. Still, that is all the time that was required in that high-intensity-gasping-for-breath zone per session – just one minute! Who can’t afford to invest a minute? Who can’t stand to suffer for just one minute?
After 3 months, both groups were examined to see how much their fitness and health had improved. The researchers not only tested cardiovascular fitness, but also key health indicators such as insulin sensitivity. The fitness and health improvements of both groups were very similar – even though the moderate cycling group had spent FIVE TIMES more minutes exercising.
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So if you have a stationary bike that is gathering dust because you “don’t have time to exercise” or that you don’t use simply because stationary cycling for an hour at a time is so utterly boring … think again!
And for regular cyclists who lose fitness over winter, this means that there is a very simple solution – just buy one of those trainer stands that converts your regular bike into a stationary bike, and invest just 30 minutes a week to keep your fitness up all winter! You can buy them from as little as $60, up to around $360 for a really premium product.
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Finally, for anyone who wants to keep fit almost anywhere, this shows that it is possible to do it with minimal cost and time. For example, you could take 10 minutes of your lunchtime, warm up for two minutes by walking, achieve your sprint intervals by walking (or running) upstairs for 20 seconds, and cool down again with a three minute walk. Done and done!
The quest to get fit and healthy never seemed so easy!
The full research article is available online from the journal PLOS ONE. The information in this post comes from a post by McMaster University in Science News.
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