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Is Three Minutes of Exercise All a Person Needs?

March 1, 2012

A few relatively short bursts of intense exercise, amounting to only a few minutes a week, can deliver many of the health and fitness benefits of hours of conventional exercise, according to new research, says Dr Michael Mosley. But how much benefit you get from either may well depend on your genes.

This article would hold a lot more water if it did not use misleading indicators to measure fitness. “Fitness” is a term with loose definitions at best.   Dr Mosely says it has to do with your ability to produce insulin and your aerobic capacity. Sounds sensible, but these principles in isolation, mean very little. Why is it not about set amount of lung capacity? A certain waist to hip ratio? A measurement of muscle fatigue? Resting heart rate? Or simply the ability to do something better this week than you did it last week?

Fat Woman on Bike

I feel sorry for the bike

Obese patients are literally stretching the NHS  and themselves to capacity. If three minutes of high intensity training was all it took to be fit, most people would be more than happy to put their mind to any heart pumping activity of their choice for three minutes in a bid to battle the chub-a-rub. In fact, many already do, which makes me ask: if 3 minutes is all we need, why are we in such a big mess in the first place?

Spare a thought for all of the overweight people that read that report and believed – even if for a moment – that a micro fitness programme would help them to negate the effects of years of macro consumption and put them into a BMI bracket their GP would be happy with.

High Intensity Training (HIT) has been embraced by many different types of athletes because of the impact it makes on one’s health and overall fitness.  As the report accurately points out, HIIT can improve cardio fitness and insulin generation. What needs to be clarified is the fact that an improvement in cardio fitness and insulin generation is not necessarily the same as achieving fitness.

If you’d rather wait ten minutes for the next bus because your lungs won’t allow you to catch the one that’s about  to pull away, 3 minutes of exercise per week can only be of some benefit.

You can train for 3 minutes a week if you want, but you won’t reach any meaningful goals. Unless you look at a mirror and ask ‘does my insulin look big in this’?

Perhaps, the report should have been titled ‘Can Three Minutes of Exercise a Week Help Make You Fitter?’, in which case, the answer is yes – if your idea of getting fitter is avoiding physical activity for 99.97% of the week. (If it is, I wish you the best of luck with that!)

This is a guest post by: Balanced Busy Bodies

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