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Stay fit with only 12 minutes of exercise a week

Teresa Tanoos's picture
New study says just 12 minutes of exercise per week is all you need

Good news for those who want to say fit, but don't have a lot of time. Just 12 minutes of exercise per week may be all you need to stay fit, according to a new study published in PLOS One.

Researchers involved in the study found that four-minute bursts of vigorous physical activity three times each week could elevate oxygen intake levels as well as lower blood pressure and glucose levels.

"Regular exercise training improves maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), but the optimal intensity and volume necessary to obtain maximal benefit remains to be defined," the researchers reported. "A growing body of evidence suggests that exercise training with low-volume but high-intensity may be a time-efficient means to achieve health benefits."

In this latest study, researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology observed the impact that various exercise routines had on 26 inactive, overweight male subjects who were otherwise healthy as they participated in the ten-week program.

The 26 men were divided into two groups: 1) one group, called the 1-AIT group, exercised 3 times per week in 4-minute sessions; and 2) the second group, called the 4-AIT group, undertook 16-minute sessions, which were broken into 4-minute bouts.

In both groups, oxygen intake increased by comparable amounts, with the 1-AIT group experiencing a 10% increase, while the 16-minute group experienced a 13% increase.

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However, the 16-minute group was also able to reduce cholesterol and body fat more successfully. Cholesterol levels are a telling indicator of diet and exercise, according to a previous Mayo Clinic study.

The results of the study found that a performing a single session of strenuous physical activity just 3 times every week may be a time-saving way to improve fitness and lower blood pressure in healthy middle-aged people who have been inactive in the past.

"A growing body of evidence suggests that exercise training with low-volume but high-intensity may be a time-efficient means to achieve health benefits," said study author, Arnt Erik Tjønna.

"The 1-AIT type of exercise training may be readily implemented as part of activities of daily living and could easily be translated into programs designed to improve public health," the author added.

Meanwhile, healthcare experts recently suggested that long, high endurance exercise may actually cause the body harm, as such strenuous exercise can result in risks for physically unfit individuals.

Accordingly, this new approach to working out can help create a safer and time-efficient method to achieving personal fitness.

In another recent study, published in the May/June issue of the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal, researchers found an ever-growing amount of evidence to support that just a few minutes of exercise a day is all you need to get into and stay in optimal shape. Click here to read more.

SOURCE: PLOS One, "Low- and High-Volume of Intensive Endurance Training Significantly Improves Maximal Oxygen Uptake after 10-Weeks of Training in Healthy Men", May 2013; doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0065382