4 minute workout

Along with our strategy of exercising outdoors with whatever is at hand,  we’ve found this heartening report in the New York Times really useful for getting ourselves to work out regularly:

In a study, published last month in the journal PLoS One, researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway, and other institutions attempted to delineate the minimum amount of exercise required to develop appreciable endurance and health gains. 

…For those unfamiliar with the term, high-intensity intervals are just that: bursts of strenuous exercise lasting anywhere from 30 seconds to several minutes, interspersed with periods of rest. In recent years, a wealth of studies have established that sessions of high-intensity exercises can be as potent, physiologically, as much longer bouts of sustained endurance exercise.

The Norwegian scientists for some years have been studying the effects of intense intervals lasting for four minutes, performed at about 90 percent of each volunteer’s maximum heart rate  (at which “you cannot talk in full sentences, but can use single words”) and repeated four times, with a three-minute rest between each interval. The total meaningful exercise time in these sessions, then, is 16 minutes.

They’ve discovered that the same benefits can be gained from completing only one four-minute strenuous run, three times a week.

Metabolic and cardiovascular health…improved…displaying better blood sugar control and blood pressure profiles, whether subjects had exercised vigorously for 16 minutes per session, or four minutes per session, and despite the fact that few had lost much body fat.

“This is not a weight-loss program,” Dr. Tjonna says. It is, instead, he says, “a suggestion for how people can make a kick-start for better fitness,” or maintain fitness already gained, when other obligations press on your time.

The results, Dr. Tjonna says, persuasively suggest that “getting in shape does not demand a big effort” in terms of time.

...the workout can effectively be practiced anywhere, Dr. Tjonna says. Sprint uphill for four minutes or race up multiple flights of steps. Bicycle, swim or even walk briskly, as long as you raise your heart rate sufficiently for four minutes. (Obviously, consult your doctor first if you haven’t been active in the past.)

Being exercise averse myself, I love this news. I’d already splurged on MIO Alpha IStrapless Continuous Heart Rate Monitor so I could track my heart rate virtually anywhere…for sprints up stairs instead of uainf the escalator, or fast-walks to appointments. It has helped enormously. I figure that it’s way cheaper than a gym, is lightweight and really keeps me exercising daily: a tool I find worth the price. It’s also really fun to look down and see what my heart-rate is; I’ve been seeing if I can LOWER my heart-rate as well by slow breathing and meditation.

mio alpha heart rate monitor

Related posts: exercise averse? outdoors (even a park) is your gym
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2 simple, potent strategies to get yourself exercising
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hula-hooping as life-changing exercise
the fun theory of doing things that are good-for-us
“get up off that thing”: improv exercise for home or work

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