All You Need Is 12 Minutes A Week To Fix Physique
May 30, 2013

All You Need Is 12 Minutes A Week To Fix Physique

Lee Rannals For — Your Universe Online

Feeling a bit lazy lately and unprepared to show off that body this swimsuit season? Well a new study suggest that just doing something is better than nothing at all.

New research written in PLOS ONE shows that just four minutes of high-intensity training sessions (AIT), three times per week, could provide statistically significant improvements in fitness.

"Our data suggest that a single bout of AIT performed three times per week may be a time-efficient strategy to improve VO2max", says Arnt Erik Tjønna, a postdoctoral fellow at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and lead author of the study.

The researchers measured changes in maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) and traditional cardiovascular risk factors in 24 inactive but otherwise healthy overweight men after they completed a 10-week training session that involved three weekly AIT workouts.

One group of 13 followed a protocol consisting of four intervals of four minutes of high intensity exercises at 90 percent of maximal heart rate (HRmax) interspersed with three minutes of active recovery at 70 percent HRmax. This workout is also known as a 4x4 regime. Another group followed a protocol that consisted of one four-minute interval at 90 percent HRmax.

The team found that VO2max increased by ten percent in the group that had just one high-intensity session three times a week, while the group following the 4x4 regimen increased its VO2max by 13 percent. Both groups saw decreases in their blood pressure, but the 1-AIT group's blood pressure showed greater decreases than their 4-AIT counterparts for both systolic and diastolic readings.

Tjønna warned that the number of study participants was small, so it limited the team's ability to extrapolate their findings. He also said that people who are active probably will not benefit as much as the inactive participants did from the 1-AIT training regime.

"It has to be noted that the subjects were previously inactive, and the same effect on physical fitness cannot be expected in active individuals," he said. "Nevertheless, since we know that more and more people are inactive and overweight, the kind of improvement in physical fitness that we saw in this study may provide a real boost for inactive people who are struggling to find the motivation to exercise."

High-intensity interval training may also be able to help your cognitive function as well. A study published in October last year found that these exercise routines might improve your ability to think, recall and make quick decisions. However, the team from this study wasn't talking about 12 minutes a week, but rather 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each week.