If you’re looking to get in shape but don’t have a lot of time to commit to regular workouts, you can still reap the rewards of physical activity in a fraction of the time of traditional exercise.
Recent research suggests that very short workouts with bouts of high-intensity movements can be very effective. In fact, they can be just as effective as longer-duration workouts.
Studies Show Similar Effects of Both Short- and Long-Duration Workouts
Exercise physiologists at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada found that one minute of high-intensity intervals throughout a 10-minute total workout (including both warm-up and cool-down) can provide comparable cardiovascular and insulin sensitivity benefits as conventional endurance training lasting five times as long. 
The study looked at the effects of bouts of intense exercise in a short time period among sedentary men. One group of participants took part in three weekly sessions of 10-minute sprint interval training over a period of 12 weeks. The sessions involved one-minute sprints within a 10-minute time commitment.
The other group participated in traditional moderate-intensity exercise for over 50 minutes.
After three months, the researchers found that both groups showed a 19% increase in peak oxygen uptake after training. Further, both insulin sensitivity and skeletal muscle mitochondrial content also increased similarly after both high- and moderate-intensity training.
This study is not the only one to show the positive effects of shorter-duration, higher-intensity workouts on overall health. For instance, researchers at the University Hospital Erlangen in Germany also linked high-intensity interval training to improved cardiovascular and metabolic health. 
The study consisted of sedentary obese participants who were placed on an exercise regimen that consisted of five, one-minute bouts of intense work on a stationary bicycle at 80% to 95% of their maximum heart rate, with one-minute recovery periods in between. The workouts were performed twice weekly for 12 weeks.
The participants showed improvement in their cardiovascular health, blood pressure, and waist circumferences.
Getting in shape may not require a significant time commitment. Instead, it’s possible to improve overall health with just a few minutes of exercise per day.
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1. Gillen, J.B., et al, “Twelve Weeks of Sprint Interval Training Improves Indices of Cardiometabolic Health Similar to Traditional Endurance Training despite a Five-Fold Lower Exercise Volume and Time Commitment“, PLOS ONE, April 2016.
2. Reljic, D., et al, “Very low-volume interval training improves nonalcoholic fatty liver disease fibrosis score and cardiometabolic health in adults with obesity and metabolic syndrome“,Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, April 2022, Vol. 72(6):927-938.