Can A One Minute Workout Change Your Life?

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April 26, 2023

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While there might not be a magic pill when it comes to health and fitness, we’re all about finding those amazing life hacks that make it as easy as possible to eat well, move your body and reap the benefits of taking care of yourself

One hack we particularly love is the exercise snacks trend, where you spread short bursts of movement throughout your day to keep your body moving, and recent research has highlighted just how powerful quick workouts really can be

As the saying goes, your whole life can change in a moment, and that could apply more than you think to your health and fitness routine.

Setting the stage

The research, published in Nature Medicine journal in December 2022, aimed to investigate the minimum amount of vigorous physical activity needed to reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer and premature death.

It’s widely known that high-intensity training can be a highly efficient and effective way to reap the benefits of exercise, but there is less understanding of how little you need in relation to mortality and disease incidence, and that’s exactly what this study sought to uncover. 

Researchers analysed the data from a prospective study involving 25,241 nonexercisers with wearable devices (over half of which were female), looking at how many minutes of vigorous physical activity they clocked up each week, the frequency of bouts lasting less than two minutes, and the associated response for cardiovascular disease, cancer and all-cause mortality with an average follow-up period of 6.9 years.

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What the researchers found

Ok, strap yourself in.

Compared with participants who engaged in no vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity (we’re talking about vigorous movement that’s part of your day as opposed to a structured vigorous workout), the participants who engaged in this style of activity at the median frequency of just three bouts per day, lasting only one or two minutes each, showed a 38–40% reduction in all-cause and cancer mortality risk and a 48–49% reduction in cardiovascular disease mortality risk. Wow. 

How long can you go? In terms of the minimum frequency dose (meaning how many short bursts are required for any benefit), they said that completing fewer than two bouts lasting 1-2 minutes was still associated with a 24–26% reduction in all-cause mortality and cancer and a 33% reduction in cardiovascular disease mortality risk.

Why is this important?

As the researchers point out, there are barriers to entry when it comes to fitting structured exercise into your day, as it requires a certain amount of time, space, preparation and sometimes equipment or fitness facilities. As much as we wish they did, not everyone has access to some or all of these things, and some people don’t even want to exercise in the first place despite how beneficial it is. Finding motivation and cultivating a positive relationship with your body can be tough! But vigorously moving for just a few minutes each day as part of your daily activities? That is more achievable and accessible, and the benefits are still significant. 

The World Health Organisation also recommends 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week, and if you’re someone who isn’t interested or able to exercise for longer periods of time, these numbers might sound daunting and disheartening. What it pays to remember is that these recommendations don’t recognise there is still so much health value in getting active for less than 10 minutes at a time. 

This research also means that even if you’re someone who has a consistent exercise routine, on the days or weeks when you don’t have much time to spare, you know that turning up the intensity for a few minutes is still going to do you a whole lot of good. 

Likewise, if you’re interested in trying HIIT workouts on the Sweat app, these micro-bursts can be a great way to get comfortable with the feeling of pushing yourself and increasing your heart rate before you try a longer workout.

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How can you get started? 

Everyone’s daily activities differ, so it might help to think about your own routine and pinpoint some of the moments throughout your day or week when you could add some serious vigour to your movement.

Depending on your lifestyle, these short high-intensity bursts could look like:

  • Running for 60 seconds to the bus or train station. 

  • Adding one to three minutes of sprinting to your walk home. 

  • Power walking up a flight of stairs.

  • Running to chase after the ball with your dog. 

  • Spending a few minutes doing high-intensity exercises in your lounge between work meetings or on your lunch break.

  • Playing high-energy games with your kids. Race to the letterbox, anyone?

  • Walking on the treadmill or cycling? Add a couple of minutes in where you turn up the incline or resistance. 

So… Why not just do the bare minimum then?

We see you trying to get the most out of these clever hacks (we are too), and while this is an amazing one, it’s important to remember how many benefits you still have to gain by making regular structured exercise part of your lifestyle. 

A workout schedule that includes a mixture of cardio and strength training can improve your muscle mass and strength, body composition, bone strength, cardio fitness, flexibility, mobility, sleep, focus, posture, skin health, stress levels, confidence, mood and overall sense of wellbeing - just to name a few. 

If you’re just starting out on your fitness journey or are a big fan of quick workouts, there are plenty to choose from in the On Demand section of the Sweat app, as well as longer programs that cover all your favourite training styles - whether you’re into heavy weight lifting, bodyweight exercises, Pilates, yoga, barre, boxing or HIIT.

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Ready for your first workout?

If adding a few bursts of vigorous exercise into your daily routine is your starting point or all you have time for right now, we applaud you. Push yourself. Feel that endorphin rush. Break a little Sweat.

And when you start to feel hungry for more and you know those one-minute bursts are just a taster of how good exercise can feel, your Sweat journey is just one click away.

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A more empowered you starts with Sweat, and our editorial team is here to bring you the latest fitness tips, trainer recommendations, wellbeing news, nutritional advice, nourishing recipes and free workouts.

* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.


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