Time for our Workout Of The Month. Each month we take a look at a different exercise and break it down by movement, how to do it, and discuss some of the positive versus negative impact that it can have to you and your level of fitness. Some workouts breakdown how to do a common exercise, others feature a specific workout. This month we’ll be taking a look at a recent study (and the media’s response to it) that shows that just one minute of high intensity exercise is as good as long bouts of forty five minutes of exercise. But does it really, now?.

Does One Minute Of Exercise Really Get You Fit?

If you missed this out of the news recently, a recent study came out citing that one minute of high intensity sprint interval training (SIT) when compared to moderate interval continuous training (MICT and read: every day exercise) gets you more fit. More fit! In just one minute of exercise! Then, knowing society’s quest to work smarter not harder, the media got a hold of the study and the news spread like wildfire from there. Why spend so much time moderately exercising for nearly an hour when you could do the same in just one minute?

Some Of The Get Fit In One Minute Headlines Included:

“Fit in 60 seconds: how 1 minute of intense exercise can boost health”

“One Minute All-Out Exercise Is Better Than Longer Moderate Workout, Study Says”

“Get Fit In 60 Seconds – Try This Science-Backed Exercise Tip”

“Think You Have No Time To Get Fit? Think Again

And the list went on…..

Can You Really Get Fit In One Minute of Exercise?

Here’s how the study worked: science geeks took twenty-seven sedentary people. They made a control group, a MICT group, and a SIT group and required all of the three to do three different exercise sessions a week for twelve weeks.

Here’s something the media missed. The SIT group, actually exercised longer than just one minute. In fact, it was ten minutes altogether. I know what you must be thinking, “so much for a quick one minute workout, right?” The participants in the SIT group did a light cycling warm-up for two minutes and a cycling cool-down for three minutes. In between that time they performed three twenty second “all out” sprints with two minutes of easy cycling between the sprints. The participants in the MICT group performed the same warm up and cool down as the SIT group yet their activity consisted of forty-five minutes of moderate cycling.

How The Researchers Determined “Fit”

The researchers looked at three key factors between the SIT and MICT groups: cardiorespiratory fitness (in the form of V02 Peak), insulin sensitivity, and mitochondrial content. V02 Peak is the ability of the body to use available oxygen in the blood. Both groups increased their cardiorespiratory fitness levels by about twelve percent.

Glucose Control In One Minute Of Exercise

Both groups had increased insulin sensitivity – the ability of the body to use insulin and effectively lower blood sugar. However, the SIT group had slightly higher increased insulin sensitivity levels.

Mitochondiral Muscle Content

For the third marker of “fitness” researchers took a sample of muscle cells out of each individuals thigh. One of the things that the researchers looked for was mitochondira – a component of cells that are responsible for generating energy within our cells, and hence within our bodies. Mitochondrial content was raised in both groups, but again, slightly higher in the SIT group.

How To Interpret This One Minute Of Exercise Study

As a grain of salt – if you take any sedentary person and start having them become active, obviously you’re going to see in increase in cardiorespiratory fitness, glucose control, and mitochondiral muscle content. That’s not a new concept and the research is there to back it up. What this study does do is feed into the notion (and other heaps of evidence) to support interval training – that short bouts of high intensity activity – has incredible effects on our body. After all, that’s what we as people are used to over the course of history. Sprinting to run from a lion, anyone?

What this doesn’t mean is that only one minute in your lifestyle of twenty second cycling sprints is going to get you fit and help you lose weight. It’s not going to help you prep for a professional football game or the next Crossfit games. What it does show is that – if you take a flight of stairs instead of the elevator, stand up to do one minute of body weight squats in the middle of your work day, or anything else of the like, you’re going to keep the blood flowing, nutrients coming, and parts of your body that would otherwise suffer from a sedentary life. Life is about the small accumulation of things that we do in a day. Take an extra minute – or five – to get your heart rate up. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or walk from across the parking lot instead of the nearest parking stall. Or if you have a sedentary job, make your own five minute circuit each hour.


1. Gibala, M. J. Et. Al. “Twelve Weeks Of Sprint Interval Training Improves Indices Of Cardiometabolic Health Similar To Traditional Endurance Training Despite a Five-Fold Lower Exercise Volume and Time Commitment.” PLOS One. 26 April 2016. Web. 27 April 2016.