London: Forget sweating it out in the gym for long hours, only 12 minutes of exercise a week could be enough to keep you healthy, a new study has claimed.
Four-minute bursts of vigorous exercise three times a week could raise oxygen intake levels and decrease blood pressure and glucose levels, a study conducted by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology has found.
During the ten week programme, a team of researchers monitored the effect of different exercise regimes using a sample of 26 inactive, overweight, but otherwise healthy men who were split into two groups.
Participants in the first group (1-AIT) undertook four-minute exercise sessions three times a week and showed similar results to the men in the second (4-AIT) who completed three 16 minute sessions, broken into four minute bouts.
Oxygen intake increased by similar amounts in both groups - 10 per cent in the four-minute exercise group and 13 per cent in the 16-minute group, `The Independent` reported.
However, the 16-minute exercise group did prove more effective at lowering cholesterol and body fat.
Researchers suggested that a single bout of strenuous exercise performed three times per week may be a time-efficient strategy to improve fitness and reduce blood pressure in previously inactive but otherwise healthy middle-aged individuals.
"A growing body of evidence suggests that exercise training with low-volume but high-intensity may be a time-efficient means to achieve health benefits," author Arnt Erik Tjonna said.
"The 1-AIT type of exercise training may be readily implemented as part of activities of daily living and could easily be translated into programmes designed to improve public health," Tjonna said.
The research was published in the Public Library of Science One journal.