Shortcuts to Fitness

There’s been some interesting “talk” in the news recently about The One-Minute group-of-kids-runningWorkout. That’s right! One minute a day => seven minutes a week, and that’s supposed to make you healthier and give you the energy of a kid again.

To say the least, I was highly skeptical of any such shortcut to fitness, but I became extremely curious and had to check this out. I’m a long-distance runner, I lift weights and pepper in ballroom dancing to keep my waistline under control as the years mount.

11998965_1040349979311329_78404066168190690_nI feel pretty good about my health status, but all that exercise takes time—time I could be writing and killing off a few more characters in my murder mystery novels or creating more international intrigue in my thriller novels. So I researched this “drop in the bucket” workout plan and found a few interesting facts as well as a few “deviations” from those facts.

It turns out that researchers at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada conducted a study that involved directing fourteen sedentary men and women to do one minute of intense, all-out exercise several times a week for six weeks. The goal was to improve their endurance and lower their blood pressure. That’s a reasonable focus since we all know that a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to poor physical endurance, increased weight and chronic diseases such as high blood pressure.

The exercise consisted of a short warm-up for two minutes on a stationary bike5379 (already I’m seeing the misnomer in the name), then the participants pedaled as hard as they possibly could for three 20-second intervals followed by a cool-down of two minutes of slower pedaling (so far I’m seeing at least a five-minute workout). They did this intense exercise regimen three times a week, all adding up to 30 minutes of exercise a week (so each session ACTUALLY took TEN minutes to accomplish).

After six weeks of this periodic but regular intense bursts of activity, the participants were measured again for their endurance to some unnamed activity (presumably the same physical activity as measured at the beginning of the study). The results indicated a 12% gain in physical endurance, lowered blood pressure levels, and a general improvement in muscle activity.

By any standard, this is impressive and this carve-out research was part of a larger study conducted by the kinesiology department at McMaster University, which has spent years studying the effects of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) as compared to the benefits of moderate exercise over longer periods of time.

jumping-man-1587747The One-Minute Workout is based on performing one of a group of exercises (like push-ups, running up a set of stairs, squat jumps or jumping rope) and focuses on only ONE of those exercises at a time for a total of one minute of exercise several times a week—and eventually one or more times a day. The concept is that anyone can carve out one minute here and there in their busy lives to focus on becoming and staying fit.

I certainly believe in HIIT-type exercise activity and know that the science behind it is solid. Short but intense workouts are effective at increasing strength and endurance. I coach long-distance runners in my spare time and one of the best ways to improve running pace (helping runners to run faster) is HIIT training via short but repeated bursts of sprinting on a running track and/or running up a short hill several times in a row. Doing these types of activities at least once a week, along with regular runs, certainly contributes to improving a runner’s overall speed.

As effective as short but intense exercise regimens can be, the problem is that any type of HIIT exercise routine is very uncomfortable—it HURTS to push your body to the limit, let it rest for a short period and then push it again to the limit. The positive results are definitely worth it and the gains in muscle endurance, cardio fitness and strength will certainly be there, but one must push through the pain to make that happen.

The negative aspects of HITT exercises (as an exclusive physical training focus) are77033d3218fa3d5036dc5079c9af70b1 that you’ll learn to dread those workouts because of the extreme physical stress they put on the body. You might possibly (and probably) find excuses to put them off (or to not do them at all). For sedentary, overweight individuals, this type of sudden bursts of exercise may be too difficult to accomplish and may even be dangerous until a certain level of fitness is achieved with a more moderate exercise program.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

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About James J. Murray, Fiction Writer

With experience in both pharmaceutical manufacturing and clinical patient management, medications and their impact on one’s quality of life have been my expertise. My secret passion of murder and mayhem, however, is a whole other matter. I’ve always loved reading murder mysteries and thrillers, and longed to weave such tales of my own. Drawing on my clinical expertise as a pharmacist and my infatuation with the lethal effects of drugs, my tales of murder, mayhem and medicine will have you looking over your shoulder and suspicious of anything in your medicine cabinet.
This entry was posted in About James J. Murray, Blog Writers, Blogging, Exercise Ideas for the Older Adult, Fountain of Youth, HITT Exercise Program, How to Create a Better Life, James J. Murray Blog, Life Skills, McMaster University Study in Kinesiology, New Blog, New Life Goals, Prescription For Murder Blog, The Next Big Thing, The One Minute Workout and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Shortcuts to Fitness

  1. Informative as always, James. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. richardbabbott says:

    There’s a doctor over here in the UK (Mike Mosely) who os occasional investigative medical journalism type programs who looked at this once. His conclusion was that there were genetic factors that affected it – some people do indeed get good benefit out of it, others get almost nothing however much they try, and (from memory – it was a while ago) the genetic marker is quite clear

  3. Thanks to both James and Richard for sharing your thoughts – All the Best!

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