I find this article absolutely fascinating. Is it REALLY possible to exercise effectively (to the point where differences in fitness are measurable) in three minutes a week? Well, as you will read, it depends on more than one factor. But the concept of achieving maximum health benefits through short bursts of exercise isn’t new. I’m thinking, here, of Tabata – although beware that Tabata (named after its ‘inventor’, Izumi Tabata PhD, a former researcher at Japan’s National Institute of Fitness and Sports) does take four minutes per session, and you will need to do it three times a week. And then we have Little Method, which suggests eight cycles of 60-second bursts of activity followed by 75 seconds of rest – again, three to five times a week. OK, so if we accept evidence that says these short periods of exercise really can have an effect, are they wholly satisfying?
- Some of us enjoy taking exercise because it provides us with social opportunities – for example, meeting at a gym or participating in a sport.
- Some of us enjoy a more subtle-body form of exercise with meditative qualities – such as yoga or qi gong.
- Some of us enjoy solitary but low-impact and low-intensity exercise – such as going for a long brisk walk or perhaps a swim.
I would suggest that (assuming you are fit, able and have checked out any issues related to exercise with your doctor) a mix of types that you enjoy will bring the greatest benefits in terms of overall wellbeing. Yes, the three-minute workout may be proven long term to have real health benefits. Thankfully, given the time it takes each week, I won’t have to sacrifice other types of exercise in order to make way for it.
Photograph: ‘Sunset Bike’ © pepo
Text: © wellbeing practitioner, 2012