Can You Get Fit in Just One Minute a Day? Here Are the Facts
Last year, Abertay University in Dundee hit the headlines, thanks to their rather unusual claim. After conducting research, scientists asserted that the health of those over the age of 60 can be dramatically improved, just by doing two one-minute sessions of exercise per week.
Sound too good to be true? Here are the facts.
What the Researchers Claim…
Led by Dr John Babraj, researchers at Abertay University put 12 participants over the age of 60 through rigorous, short bursts of exercise, twice a week for six weeks in total. The exercise that they were asked to do consisted of pedalling fast on an exercise bike for six seconds, then resting for a minute, then repeating ten times.
Their findings, which were published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, demonstrated that the participants’ blood pressure was lowered by 9% and that they also found their day-to-day activities easier to do.
‘What we found with this study,’ Dr Babraj comments, ‘is that it not only improved the participants’ physical health and ability to do these things, but also their perceptions of their own ability to engage in physical activity.’ He also notes that the men and women who took part felt that they ‘could fit it into their lives, which is something they aren’t able to do with current exercise recommendations.’
Are the Results to be Trusted?
The principle problem with this research is that it is extremely small-scale. Generally speaking, for medical research to be taken seriously and for conclusions to be drawn from it, it needs to be a lot more extensive than just 12 participants!
The duration of the research is also problematic, in that it only lasted six weeks. However, despite the fact that the study was so small, the results generated were promising. The exercising group, when compared to the control group, did demonstrate a 9% drop in blood pressure, which in just 6 weeks, is impressive. They also exhibited improvements in aerobic fitness and an 11% improvement in the ‘get up and go test’, which measures the amount of time a person takes to rise from a seated position, walk 3 metres, turn around, walk back and sit down again.
High Impact Exercise: Is It For You?
It’s important to note that high intensity exercise is not suitable for everyone, particularly if you struggle with mobility or have an existing health problem. Indeed, the TV presenter Andrew Marr blamed his stroke on his experimentations with high intensity training.
Caroline Abrahams, the charity director of Age UK, says: ‘There is a really strong body of research demonstrating the importance of exercise in later life. However, it’s important to find the right exercise for you and consult your GP before trying any radical new approaches.’
If you’re interested in trying out a high-intensity exercise programme, make sure you book an appointment with your doctor first, in order to ascertain your current levels of fitness and establish whether or not it is suitable for you.