Just 3 Minutes of Intense Exercise Improve Endurance (+Video)
1 minute of intense exercise 3 times a week helps reduce blood pressure and improve endurance.
Are you endured by the endless sessions spent sweating in a gym? Rest assured: a study by McMaster University (Ontario) in PLOS One, a minute of intense effort included in 10 minutes of exercise, and three times a week, promotes positive physiological changes in overweight adults.
Adults generally have 150 minutes of moderate to intense activity per week. However, some “intermittent” physical exercises offer shorter exercise times, with repeated sequences of intense effort interspersed with periods of rest or less intense exercise: for example, the Wingate anaerobic test includes 4 to 6 sequences of intense exercise of 30 seconds on a bicycle, separated from 4 to 5 mn of recovery, with 3 sessions of about 25 mn per week.
Material and Methods
The objective of this study was to better understand the impact of short exercise intervals on health and physiology. 7 men and 7 women who were overweight or obese but in good health (average age: 29 years, average BMI: 29.8 kg / m 2 ) followed 18 training sessions over a period of 6 weeks. There were 3 sessions of 10 minutes per week. During each session, the participants warmed up 2 mn on stationary bicycles and then had to pedal as fast as they could for 3 intervals of 20 s followed by 2 mn of pedaling at a slow pace; they ended with 3 minutes of “cooling” on the bike.
These exercises involving only 1 minute of intense exercise in a session of 10 minutes, allowed physiological adaptations and an improvement of the health. At the end of the 6 weeks, participants improved their endurance by about 12% and their blood pressure decreased by 7%.
Muscle biopsies before and 72 h after training showed an increase in maximal activity of citrate synthase, a marker of mitochondrial muscle content (mitochondria are the organelles that produce energy in the form of ATP in the cell): muscle activity was improved.
In addition, researchers monitored blood glucose before and 48 to 72 h after training; they showed a lower glucose concentration 24 hours later in men. Men had significantly improved control of their blood sugar, but not women.
Therefore 3 minutes of intense exercise per week improve the cardiometabolic health of overweight adults. Such a program alternating short periods of intense and moderate exercise should encourage everyone to get into sports.