Have you guys seen this article yet? The one about how only one minute of all-out exercise is as good as 45 minutes of moderate exercise? Is everyone planning to ditch their gym memberships and find new uses for the time you currently set aside for working out?
If you are I’d recommend you look closer at the article and what it calls out as benefits. And what it doesn’t.
The big benefit touted is an improvement in “fitness and health.” I’m going to be honest and say that I don’t exercise to improve my fitness and health. It’s not a driver for me. For me it’s a fantastic side effect, but it’s absolutely not my top motivator. I exercise to keep off 200 pounds. End of story. Every bit of my exercise regimen is focused on one and only one thing: maintaining my 200 pound weight loss. I absolutely benefit from the increased fitness and health that also happen to ride along with all of my exercise efforts, but it’s not my primary purpose.
Reading that article closely, you’ll see that nowhere does it mention that any of the study participants lost any weight at all. They may have increased their fitness, but that doesn’t mean they burned enough calories to lose weight or maintain a loss. That’s because exercising (no matter how “all out”) for one minute a day can’t possibly produce that result. Let me break it down:
The absolute maximum number of calories I can burn in one minute, pushing myself to the absolute limit of my abilities, is about 20. That’s…not much. When I run I burn about 13 calories per minute. If I up it to all-out sprinting I might get to 20 or maybe 22. That means in a week of exercising for one minute per day in this fashion, I might burn 140 or maybe 150 calories.
As I’ve mentioned before, to maintain my weight loss I need to burn 3500 to 4000 calories per week in exercise, or pull those out of my system in some other way. If I’m only exercising for a minute a day, that leaves me with 3350 calories I still have to deal with. And frankly, I don’t have that kind of wiggle room in my diet plan.
They didn’t specifically mention weight loss or weight maintenance in the study, but I’m going to assume that was implied by “It depends on who you are and why you exercise,” a quote attributed to one of the people who ran the study. If who you are is someone who needs to lose or maintain a loss, I’m extremely dubious that this would be an effective exercise routine.
All that being said, high-intensity intervals are a fantastic tool and a solid addition to any well-rounded exercise program, and I highly recommend incorporating them to anybody who isn’t already doing them!