The Longest Minute

High intensity exercise is about the best gift you can give yourself.  The core idea is that you push your limits, work out at a level that demands all your attention and an all-out act of will, and leaves you panting.

Many different schedules have been tested in many different studies.  Intervals as short as 20 seconds and as long as 4 minutes are recommended by various physiologists.  The bottom line is that even if you are training for endurance—cycling or hiking or marathon running—it is more effective to train in short, intense bursts.

Just one minute of jumping rope or elliptical training or running up and down the stairs or sprinting or swimming butterfly, several times spread through the day, can profoundly change your productivity, your mood, your general health, and your fasting blood sugar.  Exercising before a meal signals your body that these calories are to be burned, not stored as fat.

There is no more excuse, “I don’t have time to exercise.”  Rather, the issue is that you can come to dread the exertion, and psychological avoidance mechanisms can derail the best of us.  My suggestion is that you choose a schedule that you can tolerate and you can stick to.  Experiment on yourself.

What are the long-term effects on cancer, heart disease, AD and longevity?  We don’t know for sure yet, but extrapolating from comparisons of the metabolic effects with other exercise modalities suggest that the benefits are wide as well as deep.


Gretchen Reynolds summarizes the literature and offers health advice.
Tara Parker-Pope on Really, Really Short Workouts.


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