A recent article in Minneapolis Star Tribune touted the benefits of short-burst high-intensity exercise followed by periods of rest. In this situation, four seconds of high-intensity exercise was followed by 56 seconds of rest and repeated 15 times. This sequence was progressively modified by lessening the time of rest to 26 seconds and increasing the repetitions to 30, thus keeping the total work out to 15 minutes. Exercise options could include sprinting on an exercise bicycle, running in place, repeated squats or doing jumping jacks.
The study was done by Ed Coyle an Exercise Physiologist at the University of Texas and was published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
- Four seconds of intense intervals lead to rapid and meaningful improvements in strength, fitness, and general physical performance
- Four second intervals are repeated until a minute of total exertion
- Population focus: middle-aged and older adults
- This specific study relied on a specialized stationary bicycle
- Results of study: strenuous but super-abbreviated workouts can produce outsize benefits for our health and well-being
Research study specifics:
- Recruited 39 sedentary men and women ages 50 to 68
- Volunteers visited the performance lab three times a week
- Completed a workout on specialized bikes
- Sprint for four seconds, rest for 56 seconds, repeat 15 times
- Over two months, the rest periods decreased to 26 seconds and repetitions increased to 30
- At the end of eight weeks, the volunteers on average increased their fitness by 10%
- Gained considerable muscle mass and strength in their legs
- Reduced stiffness of their arteries
- Outperformed their previous selves in daily activities
- All from about three to six minutes of actual exercise per week
This study gives excellent insight into the potential options that are available in a time where access to exercise equipment is often limited due to the COVID pandemic. Even with limited space to exercise, one can improve upon their physical status with short burst exercise and (I did the math) spend up to 14 minutes of reading during the process. One can’t be much more productive!