By Dr. Dave Hnida

(CBS4) – It sounds too good to be true, especially for those of us who say we just don’t have the time to work out.

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A new study says one minute of exercise is just as good for you as 45 minutes. How is that possible?

Researchers in the online journal “PLOS One” did the research, concluding that one minute of intense exercise each day can dramatically improve your health within three months, cutting your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and a long laundry list of maladies … just as effectively as a 45 minutes a day, seven days a week program of exercise.


(credit: CBS)

But they emphasize that one minute needs to be crazy-intense, strenuous, you’re being chased by a lion or tiger or blood-thirsty zombie type of workout.

In other words, it’s a killer. But it is quick.

Here’s how they did the study … and the first thing that strikes you is the math. It really isn’t one minute — this workout really takes 10.

Researchers did the study with people on a stationary bike, and here’s what was involved:

– 2 minutes of light warm-up pedaling.

– 20 seconds as fast as you  can go.

– 2 minutes of slow pedaling

– 20 seconds of as fast as you can go

– 2 minutes of slow pedaling

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– 20 seconds of as fast as you can go

– 2 minutes of cool down light pedaling.

So you see, the intense exercise is just 60 seconds, with slowing pedaling added on.

In this study,  the researchers then compared the group who did this intense stuff with another group who did 45 minutes of regular cycling a day, as well as a group that did no exercise — their findings after using a bunch of fancy high-tech fitness measurements was that the one minuters were just as fit as the 45 minuters … but don’t even ask about the fitness levels of the people who did zip.

Now if this kind of research holds up, it might be good news for those of us who are busy and have a hard time finding the minutes we need for exercise.

But keep in mind this is not a brand new workout. It’s simply interval training, which has been around for years.

But that hasn’t stopped some gyms and workout clubs from touting this as some great new road to fitness. Don’t be fooled by the shiny new marketing — and prices. High intensity interval training is not a newcomer to the exercise world by any means — I did this as far back as the 1980s, and continue to do it today.

And while that “One Minute” workout is a nice headline, there are a number of other things to consider. It doesn’t take into account other aspects of a total fitness program, such as strength training and stretching.

Plus, you just can’t go from the couch to a sprint without risk of injury or heart attack. In other words, be careful out there.

Nonetheless, even if you are a walker, perhaps you might want to cut your time on the road by alternating a little faster with slower. But that’s your call. Sometimes a nice stroll or cycle is a pleasant way to spend some time away from the stresses of life.

Bottom line: one minute, or 45 minutes, is better than no minutes. You can’t let your body get rusty and let your only workout be playing with the remote. Get out and move. It does a body good.

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Dr. Dave Hnida is CBS4’s Medical Editor. He blogs about the latest studies and trends in the health world. Read his latest blog entries, check out his bio or follow him on Twitter @drdavehnida