By NATALIA HAWK
The 4 Minute Workout. That’s the headline that caught my eye on the New York Times website a little while ago.
I almost broke my computer in my scramble to scroll down and find out if it was legit. Can we really cut our workouts down to just FOUR MINUTES A DAY? Four minutes is nothing. That’s less than the amount of time it takes me to shower/put my make-up on/get dressed/get a hot chocolate from the cafe/do just about anything. So much more achievable than say, the half an hour I usually spend running, or the hour-long Zumba classes I do, or the entire days I’ve spent sailing…
The NYT article was based on a study from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Essentially – researchers from that university decided to find the absolute minimum amount of exercise required to actually get any benefits to endurance and/or health.
It’s all based on the idea of interval training – that whole thing when you alternate a really intense workout with a not-so-intense workout. So, for example, sprinting for 100m and walking for 300.
The study itself was based on a rather long-winded experiment in which a bunch of men ran really fast on treadmills for only four minutes, while another bunch of men did interval training for about 30 minutes. The difference between the two, after 10 weeks? None. Well, nothing significant, anyway.
The ultimate conclusion? Exercising really hard for four minutes, three times a week, can actually adequately improve your health. That’s pretty excellent news for those of you who haven’t managed to get to the gym this week and are feeling seriously guilty about it.
But – and yes, of course there has to be a but – the four minute workout is limited to high-intensity cardio – so if you want to, say, get a good yoga workout, I’d hazard a guess that four minutes will probably not do it for you.
Not to mention that (and excuse me while I put my fitness blogger hat on for a sec, I’m sorry, I have to) you won’t get any of the other benefits involved in exercise if you choose to only do it for four minutes a day. For example:
– You are highly unlikely to actually improve at any kind of activity if you only partake in it for four minutes at a time. Imagine if you only skied for four minutes at a time. Or swam for four minutes at a time. Or surfed for four minutes at a time.