Can three minutes of exercise a day really make a difference? 34



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Just three minutes each day can make a tangible different to health and fitness. But there is a catch.

According to studies by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, such exercise would need to be short and very high-intensity. However, it could make a bigger impact than longer forms of exercise.

The study found positive results from four minutes of vigorous exercise just three times a week.

Participants in these studies showed a 50% improvement in their aerobic capacities after 12 weeks.

Other benefits include increased stamina, and reduced chances of heart disease, hypertension and diabetes.

ABC TVs Catalyst program also recently explored short, high intensity workouts, with similarly strong results.

We have known for some time that 15 minutes of interval training three times a week will provide better results than jogging on a treadmill for an hour every day. However the research shows that even smaller high intensity training intervals have a bigger impact than first thought.

So how can people benefit from high intensity training?

I have developed the following three minute workout.

But before anyone commits to any high intensity regime, it’s important to know that your system is strong enough to take it. Anyone with a heart condition should check with their general practitioner first.

Three minutes a day

The exercises in the 3 minute workout require no equipment and can be done anywhere.

While three minutes may sound small, it is not easy. A three minute high intensity workout is harder than a 30-minute walk.

My three minute workout involves:

  • 30 seconds of Shadow Boxing
  • 30 seconds of Push Ups
  • 30 seconds of Squat Jumps
  • 30 seconds of High Knee Running (on the spot)
  • 30 seconds of Star Jumps
  • 30 seconds of Sit Ups

Using these exercises gives you a balanced workout, impacting the core, upper and lower body, and the aerobic and anaerobic systems. There are variations possible, which is discussed in the book, along with some important notes on technique.

The key is high intensity:

Many people exercise within a comfort zone, which means the body gets used to regular exercise levels. Unless you play a demanding sport, people rarely push out of their physical comfort zone.

Naturally, any lower intensity exercise is still wonderful but high intensity is a powerful complement, because it forces the body from its comfort zone and that is when you see real benefits.

How do we reach high intensity?

Participants need to train at 85% of their capacity for high intensity (the Norwegian research shows the heart rate needs to reach minimum 85% capacity for the benefits to show). At 85% you are sufficiently pushing yourself out of the comfort zone. Your heart rate is up, you are breathing heavily, which allows you to improve fitness faster than moderate exercise.

How do we know we are going at 85%?

Think of 85% as one step away from going absolutely flat out – you still have all the benefits of high intensity training with lower injury risk.

The workout has many benefits for over 60s, but is not recommended if you have a heart condition.

If you don’t have a heart condition, or any joint or musculoskeletal injuries, then it’s never too late to discover the power of high intensity training. A health check from your general practitioner is recommended so you can be confident in your new training regime.

How do you feel about high-intensity workouts? Would you switch to a shorter, harder exercise routine if it had better results?

Kusal Goonewardena

Kusal is a physiotherapist with over 15 years’ experience at treating seniors, families and elite sportspeople. His clinical research has involved finding preventative cures for low back pain. Kusal has authored books including: Low Back Pain – 30 Days to Pain Free; 3 Minute Workouts; and co-authored Natural Healing: Quiet and Calm, all currently available via Wilkinson Publishing. Kusal holds a Masters in Sports Physiotherapy from Latrobe University and a Bachelor in Physiotherapy from the University of Melbourne. Aside from his consulting with the general public via his clinic, Elite Akademy, Kusal works closely with Melbourne University’s Sports Medicine team and works with elite athletes including several Olympians. When not consulting, Kusal is a lecturer, author, consultant and mentor to thousands of physiotherapy students around the world.

  1. One squat and that would be me finished for the day, at least until someone helped me up. 3 yrs of work involving walking several km/day on cement floors stuffed my knees and ankles.

  2. To perform the 3 minute exercises listed, a person would need to be fit in the first place. I was instructed to warm up before any intense exercise. Needless to say it’s not going to happen.

    2 REPLY
    • Walking is difficult with a bulging disc in my lower back Christina, otherwise I’d be exercising regularly, I’m limited to short walks and floor exercises.

  3. My grand daughters are totally breathless after this,and I know they’d be calling the paramedics for me. I love my walks and I also love dancing around to music to do my housework! If I really want it done in a hurry,I put on my Cajun CD,now that’s a workout!

    1 REPLY
  4. Yeah, right,
    30 seconds of Shadow Boxing
    30 seconds of Push Ups
    30 seconds of Squat Jumps
    30 seconds of High Knee Running (on the spot)
    30 seconds of Star Jumps
    30 seconds of Sit Ups ……. Bahahahaha choke.

    So 1 only of each right? ‘Cos that’s about all I’d manage in 30 seconds of these. I don’t do jumping of ANY sort. I even wear knee braces to my weekly 2-hour dance class.

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