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Archive for June, 2009

Getting fit on six minutes a week

June 29th, 2009

Last summer, I wrote about a series of interesting studies coming out of Martin Gibala’s lab at McMaster University. The gist: you can reap a surprising range of exercise dividends in a very short period of time — if you’re willing to work very hard. The latest article in Gretchen Reynolds’ New York Times column tackles that same research, with the alluring title “Can you get fit in six minutes a week?

Surprisingly, the answer [SPOILER ALERT!] seems to be yes — at least to a certain extent, and with one key catch. As I wrote last summer:

There is a catch – the disclaimer at the end of the infomercial, if you will. To cram the benefits of an hour-long workout into a few short minutes, you also have to compress the effort you would have spent.

“That’s the trade-off,” Dr. Gibala says. “Going all out is uncomfortable. It hurts.” But at least with this approach it’s over quickly.

For most people, the smart approach is some sort of middle ground. Don’t aim for an absolutely minimal five-minute workout — but do throw in some high-intensity surges to maximize the time-efficiency of your exercise.