3 Minutes Exercise A Week To Get Fit – Really?!

Many years of research on the benefits of exercise, both here in the UK and elsewhere, keep coming up with the same results.  Just 3 minutes of intense exercise per week can bring huge rewards.

Diabetes is rising at an alarming rate both here and in the US and is mainly put down to diet and lack of exercise.  High Intensity Training could be the answer many have been looking for.  One of the major benefits of “HIT” is the effect it has on blood sugar and an individuals sensitivity to insulin.  Insulin removes sugar from the blood and controls fat and when it becomes ineffective, you become diabetic.  Diabetes is a serious disease and affects 2.9 million people in the UK with an estimated 850,000 who have the disease but don’t know it.  Diabetes can cause blindness, kidney damage, damage to the nerve endings particularly in the feet which can lead to amputation, depression, gum disease as well as other serious symptoms.

So, if we could do 3 minutes exercise per week that may reduce our risk of developing diabetes then bring it on!

A recent international study asked 1000 people to do aerobic exercise for four hours per week for 20 weeks.  Their aerobic fitness was measured both before and after and the results were quite remarkable.

Although 15% of people made huge progress (so called super-responders) 20% showed no improvement at all (so called non-responders).  What this shows in spectacular style is that we are all different!  Of course we’ve all known this since the dawn of time but try telling that to the “one diet and exercise regime fits all” mentality when it comes to the NHS when they tell us to simply eat less and exercise  more!  A genetic test has been developed to ascertain whether an individual will respond well to exercise or not.  That will definitely help all those who are working their socks off in the gym and getting no-where fast!  For some of us, slogging our guts out an hour a day every day just isn’t worth it.  However, everyone would benefit from some High Intensity Training (HIT).

So, how does it work and what do we need to do?  It’s really simple.  Warm up nicely on an exercise bike then go flat out for 20 seconds.  Recover for a minute or so and go for it again.  Do this 3 times over and that’s it!  Do this 3 times a week.   What happens is that when we do HIT we are using 80% of our muscle cells whereas when we do moderate walking or jogging we only use 20-40%.  We need to exercise to break down the body’s stores of glucose, which is deposited  in your muscles and is a substance called glycogen.  If we can break down the glycogen stores you create more room for more glucose to be taken from the blood which is good news.

In these recent studies people’s insulin sensitivity was improved by as much as 25% simply by doing HIT 3 times a week over a 4 week period.  By doing this you are decreasing your risk of diabetes but other benefits include a decrease in body fat, firmer skin and fewer wrinkles, improved athletic speed and performance, improved muscle tone, an increase in energy and you will reach your fitness goals faster.  Sounds good!

Previous research in young men and women has shown that by doing HIT 3 times per week for 6 weeks can produce similar physiological changes in leg muscles as seen in those who preform 5 hour long sessions of cycling in the gym.

This research is so encouraging for those of us who struggle with exercise and are regularly beating ourselves up about it!  HIT is cheap, convenient, efficient and highly effective!  Give it a go and I would love to hear any stories you might have about your own experience with this type of exercise!