Is 1 Minute Of Hard Exercise As Good As 45 Minutes Of Effort?

Couch potatoes of the world, rejoice! It’s possible one minute of hard exercise can get you as fit as a full 45 minutes of effort. Before you injure yourselves while celebrating, it might be good to know there’s a caveat.

Research results published by scientists at McMaster University don’t exactly state that you can get the definition and tone of someone who lifts weights for 45 minutes a few times per week. If you clicked the link expecting a “yes” to your one minute of walking in place and doing nothing else for the rest of the day, sorry to disappoint you.

However, there’s still good news to be had if you really want to exercise but just don’t have the time.


Martin Gibala, the lead author on the study and a professor of kinesiology at McMaster, and his group had a very specific goal in mind.

“We investigated whether sprint interval training (SIT) was a time-efficient exercise strategy to improve insulin sensitivity and other indices of cardiometabolic health to the same extent as traditional moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT).

“SIT involved 1 minute of intense exercise within a 10-minute time commitment, whereas MICT involved 50 minutes of continuous exercise per session.”

In other words, they wanted to know if hard exercise in 20-second intervals for about a minute could be effective alternatives to a comparatively lengthy period of exercise. To find the answer, Medical Daily reports his team “recruited 27 men living a sedentary lifestyle.” The group was split into three groups: one performed “sprint interval training,” another did “moderate-intensity continuous training,” and the last group performed no exercise whatsoever.

The results were rather astounding.

“Twelve weeks of brief intense interval exercise improved indices of cardiometabolic health to the same extent as traditional endurance training in sedentary men, despite a five-fold lower exercise volume and time commitment.”

The outcome of the research proved that hard work, even for a relatively short period, will yield positive results, at least when compared with not exercising at all. Is it really so surprising that running up and down a flight of stairs for a full minute has greater health benefits than performing zero minutes exercise? It shouldn’t be.

That aside, this research will hopefully convince those who still don’t see the value in a daily exercise routine — even a relatively abbreviated one.


Perhaps one of the most effective aspects of this finding, as noted by Sportact, is that it eliminates the excuse of having no time to exercise.

Said Gibala, “This is a very time-efficient workout strategy. Brief bursts of intense exercise are remarkably effective.”

“The basic principles apply to many forms of exercise. Climbing a few flights of stairs on your lunch hour can provide a quick and effective workout. The health benefits are significant.”

This is good news for Americans who are always on the go and for sedentary individuals discouraged by the thought of exercise because they assume it’s an “hours long” process. Whether you think you don’t have the time or you fear fitness takes too long, you’re now completely wrong — at least according to this research.

High-intensity interval training (and Tabata training specifically) will probably go over well with both crowds. These type of exercises take very little time while helping you exercise hard enough to see results in the long-run. The key words being “exercise hard.”

If you’re going to put in a very short workout, the research shows it’s a waste of time if you aren’t working as hard as you possibly can for that full 20 seconds of non-stop effort. You must maintain the intensity to get an effective workout.

Then, on days where you can find the time, opt for a 45-minute exercise that isn’t as grueling but is still beneficial to your body.

[Image via Fit Approach | Flickr| Cropped and Resized | CC BY-SA 2.0 ]