Between work, family and school, it can be a struggle to get to the gym. While the U.S. Surgeon General recommends at least 30 minutes of exercise daily, researchers in Canada say you don’t need to sacrifice a half-hour to stay healthy.

A study conducted at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario finds that regular sessions of one-minute bursts of exercise can achieve the same benefits as longer fitness routines.

Scientists compared maximum power peaks and heart rates of two groups of male and female volunteers. Participants in the first group were middle-aged and of average health but inactive. The second group, made up of middle-aged participants as well, had a history of cardiovascular disease. Both groups began a cycling interval program where they repeated one-minute bursts of intense activity, alternating with one-minute periods of rest, for 20 minutes at a time.

Weeks later, both groups experienced significant improvements in their health and fitness. In addition, the patients with cardiovascular disease exhibited improvements in blood vessel and heart function according to Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster.

A small follow-up experiment was conducted to confirm the study’s results. Volunteers who had been diagnosed with full-blown Type 2 diabetes were asked to try the 1-minute hard, 1-minute easy interval training. Researchers discovered that even a single session, repeated 10 times, improved blood sugar regulation in the subjects, especially after meals.

Yet still, Gibala says, you should still aim for the average 30-minute or longer endurance training if you have the time.

One-Minute Workouts You Should Try

  • Arm circles: Start by making small circular motions with both arms on either side. After a few repetitions of small circles, enlarge your circles and do the same number of reps. Arm circles gives your shoulders a huge workout.
  • Chair squats: Stand up just as you’re about to sit in your chair. Chair squats works the butt muscles (glutes), hips and thighs.
  • Lunges: Slowly step backward with one leg in the lunge position, bending both knees and lowering your hips so that the forward thigh is parallel with the floor. The front knee should be vertically above the foot and ankle. Return to the start position. Lunges works the core, hips and legs.
  • Plank: Lie on your stomach with your palms on the floor. Keep your elbows close to your sides and hands directly under your shoulders. Lift into pushup position, keeping torso and legs stiff. Hold for one minute. Planking works the abdomen.
  • Stairs: Walk up and down the stairs. It works your glutes.

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