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Don't Have Time to Exercise? Do This for 10 Minutes

Don't Have Time to Exercise? Do This for 10 Minutes
From TIME - August 10, 2017

In the fitness world, the word miracle gets thrown around like a two-pound dumbbell. But when it comes to high-intensity interval training (HIIT), a very short workout, the benefits youve heard about are both legitimate andwell say itmiraculous.

HIIT is a combination of brief, very-high intensity bursts of cardio exercise followed by equal or longer periods of rest. Think 30 seconds to a minute of sprinting, followed by a minute or two of walking or slow jogging. Repeat this cycle for just 10 minutes, and youll complete a HIIT workout.

We now have more than 10 years of data showing HIIT yields pretty much the exact same health and fitness benefits as long-term aerobic exercise, and in some groups or populations, it works better than traditional aerobic exercise, says Todd Astorino, a professor of kinesiology at California State University, San Marcos, who has published more than a dozen study papers on HIIT.

Whether your goal is to improve your fitness, lower your risk for cardiovascular disease, lose weight, strengthen skeletal muscle or help get your blood sugar under control, a few minutes of HIIT seem to be as effective as much longer periods of moderate-paced running, cycling, swimming or other forms of traditional cardio. For well-trained athletes, HIIT may be the best way to elevate your physical performance.

MORE: The TIME Guide To Exercise

One small study of healthy but sedentary people found just one minute total of HIIT performed three days a week for six weeks was enough to significantly improve blood sugar scores and aerobic capacity, a measure of physical fitness. The study participants completed 10- to 20-second bouts of all-out cycling on a stationary bike, each broken up by a couple minutes of rest. The total workout time, start to finish, was 10 minutes.

Other research finds that HIIT may outperform traditional cardio when it comes to fat loss. A HIIT-induced surge in your bodys levels of growth hormones and other organic compounds can increase fat burning and energy expenditure for hours after exercise, says study author Stephen Boutcher, an associate professor of medical sciences at the University of New South Wales in Australia.

It does not just work for the young, fit and healthy. Among people with heart disease, HIIT improves cardiorespiratory fitness nearly twice as much as longer stretches of moderate-intensity running, cycling or other aerobic exercises, one review study concluded.

MORE: Why You Dont Have to Exercise Every Day

How can HIIT do so much good in so little time? During very intense exercise, the heart cannot pump enough blood to satisfy all the muscles, says Ulrik Wislff, a HIIT researcher and head of the cardiac exercise research group at the Norwegian School of Science and Technology. This lacking oxygen delivery to the muscles starts a cascade of molecular responses in most organs of the body that produces a greater training response than more leisurely bouts of exercise, he says.

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