There are times when less is more, and according to a new study, 4 minutes of intense exercise may be all you need for fitness. Gretchen Reynolds, writing for the New York Times Phys Ed section (6/21/13), cites a study from Norway that may clarify how little exercise one needs to attain health benefits. Really, 4 minutes? Some of my clients and friends are gonna really like this news. Increasing evidence over the past few years have pretty much established that sessions of high-intensity exercises can be as potent as much longer bouts of sustained endurance exercise. In this study, led by Arnt Erik Tjonna, at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, researchers gathered 26 overweight and sedentary but otherwise healthy middle-aged men, determined their baseline endurance and cardiovascular and metabolic health, and randomly assigned them to one of two groups. Half were given a supervised exercise program that had them running at 90% of their maximal heart rate with four four-minute intervals, followed by three minutes of slow walking in-between; repeated three times a week for 10 weeks. The other group completed only one four-minute strenuous run (90%), three times a week. Across both groups, all of the cardiovascular and metabolic health measures improved, despite the fact that few of the men had lost much body fat. “This is not a weight-loss program,” Dr. Tjonna says. It is, instead, “a suggestion for how people can kick-start for better fitness.” or maintain fitness already gained, when time constraints interfere on your time. In other words, if weight loss is your goal, you need to get in more time and frequency per week. But if it’s metabolic issues like blood sugar, blood pressure, etc., maybe this is for you.

Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.