Good News: A 10 Minute Workout Might Be Just as Good as 45 Minutes

But be prepared to give it your all for at least 60 seconds.

spin-class
Photo by Boston Globe/Getty Images

Between working, cooking, cleaning, taking care of the kids, and, well, everything else, it’s not surprising that working out can get pushed to the bottom of the priority list—even though you know how important it is. Well, according to a small new study from McMaster University, being healthy just got a lot easier: 10 minutes(!) of interval training exercise might produce similar effects as moderate 45-minute workouts.

For the study, researchers compared the effects of sprint interval training (SIT) with moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) on overall fitness measurements. They took 27 men who did not lead already active lifestyles and had them do either the SIT or the MICT training. SIT training involved cycling moderately for two minutes to warm up, then doing three sets of all-out sprinting for 20 seconds, followed by two minutes of recovery cycling. They ended with a three-minute cool down. Those assigned to the MICT training did the same warm-up and cool-down, but instead of sprinting, they just cycled at a moderate pace for 45 minutes.

Researchers found that, at the end of the study’s 12 weeks, the results from both groups were very similar: they increased endurance and fat percentage lost.

Study author Martin Gibala told Real Simple in an e-mail that though this new research only tested men, past research the team conducted showed similar results in women. However the effects were less pronounced for women than they were in men, meaning the benefits of SIT training created a bigger difference from pre- to post-training markers.

Looking for ways to get your high intensity minute in during the workday? Try running to catch your train, or even making your lunch routine slightly more vigorous. "Climbing a few flights of stairs on your lunch hour can provide a quick and effective workout,” Gibala said in a statement. “The health benefits are significant.”

Better yet, the findings bust one of the most popular excuses for skipping your workout: "Most people cite 'lack of time' as the main reason for not being active," he said. "Our study shows that an interval-based approach can be more efficient—you can get health and fitness benefits comparable to the traditional approach, in less time."