Horizon: The Truth about Exercise presenter Michael Mosley says we each need to do three intense minutes of exercise at a time. Radio Times checked out the science – and brings you all the details of what to do in those three short minutes
Why three minutes is enough
Scientists at Nottingham University who measured Mosley’s reaction to the High-Intensity Interval training (HIT) sessions recorded a 30 per cent improvement in the effectiveness of his insulin action: that’s the body’s ability to move glucose out of the bloodstream — where it can become a toxin and lead to the build-up of dangerous visceral fat — and into muscle tissue, where it is of benefit.
Professor James Timmons is leading the UK research programme that mosley participated in, part of a Europe-wide study that’s due to report in four years’ time. He tells RT: “The science is developing on High-Intensity Interval training. Yes, it is really good at improving glucose uptake into the muscles in a very, very short time.
“With really intense exercise, you release hormones that can help break down fat. This may help burn that fat over time, after HIT is done. Also, we think, but don’t know, that HIT will subdue appetite, while traditional exercise (jogging etc) will stimulate appetite. This last point is key and will be researched by our team.”
Further confirmation that three minutes a week may be as beneficial as three hours comes in a paper due to be delivered to a London conference later in March. “A growing body of evidence demonstrates that HIT can serve as an effective alternate to traditional endurance-based training, inducing similar or even superior physiological adaptations,” says Martin Gibala from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. “Such findings are important given that ‘lack of time’ remains the most commonly cited barrier to regular exercise participation.”
Three bursts of 20 seconds equals one minute. Now do that three times a week…
Horizon: the Truth about Exercise is on Tuesday at 9pm on BBC2 (11:20pm in Wales, Thursday 11:20pm in Northern Ireland)
This is an edited version of an article in the issue of Radio Times magazine published 21 February 2012