1 Minute Workout

sprintDespite advice that we should be doing 30 minutes of exercise 5 times a week or even every day, the latest craze is the 1 Minute Workout. In this article, you can find out why we need to exercise, how you can do it in just one minute a day, and the scientific evidence that shows it works. Read on for 1 Minute Workout ideas too!

Why must we ‘workout’?
Life is getting more and more physically easy. Thanks to increasingly affordable and available technology and convenience products we’re not hand-washing and scrubbing our laundry, or on our hands and knees cleaning, or even ‘digging for victory’. We’re saving so much energy – many of us sitting at a computer all day, able to drive to work and park just yards from our work place. We’re not using our bodies like even our recent ancestors did… so it’s not surprising that diabetes, heart disease, cancer and obesity are on the rise. Our children are watching TV and playing computer games more and more too.

However, despite the ‘easiness’ of life now compared to just a few decades ago, I think in some ways our generation do have a hard time of it. We’re all just a bit too stressed out, with little quality free time and we typically put much higher expectations and pressure on ourselves to keep up with everybody else. The standard of living that has become the ‘norm’ today is abject luxury compared with our Grandparents’ – we all need the latest this and that – it’s rare that people just ‘make do’ like our Grandparents and even our parents used to, and all this adds pressure to earn more, buy more, work longer hours. It’s no longer enough to simply feed and clothe our children – are we also taking them to this class, that group, giving them 5 a day, taking them to ‘street dance’ or drama class, teaching them phonics?

On top of all this we’re told that to counteract our sedentary lifestyles we must squeeze in at least 30 minutes dedicated to exercise every day! To be completely honest I would absolutely love to do this, and used to once upon a time before I was a working mummy. I can’t even say I don’t have the time – I’m sure I do, but I feel so busy and tired I commonly ‘veg out’ at the end of the day, once children are asleep and all the cooking, mending and housework is done.
It’s not just me. Over half of the population in the UK are not finding the time or the motivation to fit in the recommended 30 minutes a day of exercise.

So. The solution is this: Take the pressure off – exercise: yes, half an hour a day: no.

Uh-oh. No excuses now!!!!
Experts are now saying you can achieve an acceptable level of fitness and even look and feel different by doing just one minute of exercise per day! Or even just 3 minutes a week! Doing this can even prevent diabetes! So, you think you don’t have the time? Surely everybody has 1 minute to spare?

Having looked into this, it’s not actually a 1 minute workout – it will actually take 10 minutes or so when you include a warm-up and a warm-down, and rest intervals too. However, this is phenomenal considering that doing just a minute of intense exercise can out-perform an hour of jogging!

So the only excuse left is lack of motivation. I’m afraid I can’t help you there… only you can do it. But if it helps, you should know how important it is to take a little time for yourself every day, that you need to take stock, reset, and take care of yourself – even if you can only spare a minute YOU ARE WORTH IT!

The science
Our muscles store glycogen, which is stored sugar. They do this so that they are always ready for use, and will use up these glycogen stores during exercise. After exercising, our muscles need to replace their glycogen – they do this by taking sugar from the blood. Therefore for those who don’t exercise, their muscles take blood sugar less often, which means that eventually the insulin (used to break down blood sugar) becomes less effective. Hence their blood sugar levels keep rising and this will eventually cause Type 2 Diabetes.

Scientific studies have proved that doing short bursts (e.g. 20 seconds) of very high intensity exercise will break down as much glycogen (stored sugar) in your muscles as an hour of moderate exercise. Hence after just a short intense workout you can use up lots of blood sugar. Studies have also shown that you can also increase your endurance more with short bursts of highly intensive activity than doing lengthier but more moderate work outs. And you produce fat-burning hormones too, which means you continue to burn calories many hours after you finish exercising, versus moderate exercise where your metabolism normalizes more quickly.

I must stress though that if you have the time to do 30 minutes or an hour of exercise, you shouldn’t just do away with this in favor of a 1 minute workout – the benefits of longer moderate exercise are huge – alleviating stress, ‘you-time’, calorie consumption and other huge physical benefits. Ideally, you could try to maximize your longer workout. E.g. if you go jogging for 30-45 minutes, throw in three 20 second sprints (running flat out) during that time, after each one walk until you recover, and then continue your jogging. This way you’re getting all the benefits of your usual workout with the added bonus that your short burst of activity provides.

High intensity exercise might not suit you – you may not be physically able or have a heart or other medical condition – always check with your doctor if you’re not sure.

What can you do in a minute?
Doing short bursts of highly intense exercise is known as interval training. The idea is that you push your body as hard as you can for a short time, then recover, then repeat.

Ok, so it doesn’t take only a minute to workout – it breaks down like this:

• 3-4 minute warm up (brisk walk, stretching, gentle jogging – anything to get your body warm)
• 10-20 seconds of very highly intense activity (sprinting / cycling / burpees – flat out!)
• 1 minute of low intensity exercise to recover (walking, slow jog, gentle swimming)
• 10-20 seconds of high intensity again
• 1 minute of low intensity exercise to recover
…and so on until you have completed 60 seconds of high intensity exercise
• 3-4 minute warm down (walking, stretching)

1 Minute Workout ideas

Idea 1
Walk briskly for 3 minutes or until warm, then sprint (run flat out) for 20 seconds (or 10 seconds if you’re a beginner) then walk for 1 minute to recover. Do another 20 second sprint (or as long as you can manage) and then walk for a minute. Do this until your total sprinting time is 1 minute. Pretend you are running in the Olympics with the whole world watching if that motivates you! Then warm down for 3-5 minutes by walking and stretching. Obviously if your sprinting intervals are 20 seconds each then your workout will take 4 minutes in total (not including the warm up and warm down), whereas if you can only sprint for 10 seconds at a time this will increase your workout time to 7 minutes.
Idea 2
Cycling on an exercise bike with the highest resistance you can for 20 seconds, then low resistance for 1 minute, then high for 20 seconds etc. You can also achieve this on a regular bike – use your gears to change the intensity or find a hill, and cycle as fast as you can followed by gentle peddling. Don’t forget to warm up and warm down!
Idea 3
Do as many burpees as you can in one minute, and then rest. If you want you can do them in intervals too by doing three sets of 20 seconds of burpees, each followed by 1 minute walking. Make sure you warm up and down! What are burpees? – watch this clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNLiCX8gYWo

Good luck! Leave us a comment and let us know how you get on!

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