Breaking News: Workouts Are Now Down to Four Minutes

By Ava Feuer, REDBOOK.

Can you tell we're excited? A new Norwegian study has found that you may be able to get real benefits from as little as four minutes of exercise, less than the length of some songs on your playlist.

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Previous research has found that interval training for 16 minutes prompted the same changes in muscle cells as 90 minutes of moderate cardio activity. Now, in a further attempt to buck the, "I just don't have time" excuse, we've done one better.

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Researchers split 26 overweight, sedentary but otherwise healthy middle-aged men into two groups: those who ran on a treadmill at 90 percent of their maximum heart rate for four-minute intervals separated by three minutes of recovery, and those who did one, equally strenuous four-minute run. After 10 weeks, both groups benefited equally, increasing their endurance by an average of 10 percent, improving metabolic and cardiovascular health, and showing better blood sugar control.

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That said, none of the men lost much body fat, suggesting that four minutes is like insufficient when it comes to weight loss, but that it can nonetheless jumpstart fitness. Even better? The routine can be practiced anywhere - running stairs, biking, briskly walking - so no trip to the gym is required.

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