Stop those endless squats! Just 4 minutes of exercise adds years to your life

Good news if exercising for more than half an hour sounds like a death sentence to you. New research published in the Journal of Physiology suggests intensity may be more instructive than duration when it comes to adequate values of physical activity.

According to the authors, performing “low volume” high-intensity interval training (HIIT), or short periods of intense anaerobic exercise followed by less intense resting periods, can yield significant benefits to one’s overall health in mere weeks.

More discreetly, participants involved in the analysis who performed as little as 4-minutes of HIIT exercises three times per week experienced dramatic improvements to blood sugar regulation, cardiorespiratory fitness as well as reductions in liver fat in just three months.

The research posits that these outcomes are comparable to outcomes associated with performing 45 minutes of moderate-intensity exercises a week.

“High‐intensity interval training (HIIT) is characterized by short bouts of high‐intensity submaximal exercise interspersed with rest periods. Low‐volume HIIT, typically involving less than 15 min of high‐intensity exercise per session, is being increasingly investigated in healthy and clinical populations due to its time‐efficient nature and purported health benefits,” the authors wrote in the new paper.

“Although further studies are required to elucidate the precise mechanisms of action, metabolic improvements appear to be driven, in part, by enhanced mitochondrial function and insulin sensitivity, whereas certain cardiovascular improvements are linked to increased left ventricular function as well as greater central and peripheral arterial compliance.”

The results followed a meta-analysis of patients suffering from type-1 diabetes. Although health systems recommend otherwise healthy adults try and shoot for at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week, the new study urges further research into how this value corresponds with more generalized health goals.

HIIT appears to support substantial health benefits for those who do not suffer from metabolic orders as well. For healthy adults, HIIT is associated with increased muscle mass, improved stamina, and endurance, weight loss, and cardiovascular health.

Below are deemed to be some of the most effective HIIT workouts.

  • Hand-Release Push-Ups: Start in a standard push-up position, and lower your body all the way down to the floor. … 
  • Plyo Push-Ups: Performed with hands on the floor, placed wider than shoulder-width apart and with your feet together. Next, keep your back flat, slowly lower your body toward the ground.
  • Russian Twists: Create a V shape with your torso and thighs while sitting. Reach your arms straight out in front, interlacing your fingers, and then use your abdominals to twist to the right, then back to center, and then to the left

Additionally:

“Beyond the purported health benefits, low‐volume HIIT appears to be safe and well‐tolerated in adults, with high rates of reported exercise adherence and low adverse effects,” the authors continued.

“The findings from recent trials suggest that low‐volume HIIT can induce similar, and at times greater, improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness, glucose control, blood pressure, and cardiac function when compared to more traditional forms of aerobic exercise training including high‐volume HIIT and moderate intensity continuous training, despite requiring less time commitment and lower energy expenditure.”