To Your Health: Making Minutes Count

Dear Guys,
I really want to work out but there’s no way I can spend an hour or two on a treadmill every day. Can you recommend some “quick fix” cardio exercises that will help me shift a few pounds?
Linda Elder
Old Metairie

It is a great start just wanting new cardiovascular exercises; in addition to shedding pounds, it can help reduce the risk of heart attack, diabetes and some cancers, and also helps to keep your brain sharp.

The best news however, is that there’s a slew of research that shows that HIIT (high intensity interval training) can be done in as little as four minutes!

At Ontario’s McMaster University, a study compared two groups of men who cycled either one to two hours a day or in four to six 30-second bursts at their highest intensity. After two weeks, both groups showed the same physical changes. Another study showed one minute at your maximum capacity followed by one minute of recovery, repeated 10 times, produced good improvements in cardiovascular strength and sugar regulation. A Japanese study showed a regime of 20 seconds of maximum effort followed by 10 seconds of recovery repeated eight times could burn as much fat as an hour of exercise in just four minutes.

So, in theory, you could work out for four minutes instead of an hour, but that’s hard for the body to handle. The key point is that even if you see your hour of workout time whittled down to 20 or 30 minutes, it’s still worth it!

In fact, many fitness pros believe that HIIT is much better for your body than long durations of cardio because it doesn’t break down the muscle that you need to keep your metabolism up.

So, set aside 15 to 20 minutes and figure out the intensity and duration you can handle to reap the maximum benefits. If you do find another 10 minutes, definitely squeeze in some strength training, a few push-ups, and leg or chest presses.

Billy Katz and Hudson Ellis are the co-owners of Simply Fit gyms. Read more tips from them in Renaissance Publishing’s e-newsletter. Sign up by visiting

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