The 4 Minute Workouts That Could Banish Depression

New research has found that getting fit could prevent and treat depression - and you can do it in less than 5 minutes!

We all know that regular exercise can help us live longer, healthier lives, but did you know that it could also guard against depression? New research has discovered that those with the lowest levels of cardiovascular fitness are 75% more likely to develop depression than those with the highest. But it’s never too late: the researchers also discovered that the symptoms of people diagnosed with clinical depression improved significantly when they were put on a ‘moderately strenuous’ exercise programme.

And here’s the really good news: research from McMaster University in Ontario has found that as little as 60 seconds of intensive exercise can have the same physiological benefits as 45 minutes of continuous exercise.

Exercise scientists led by Martin Gibala, chair of kinesiology at McMaster University examined the changing fitness levels and insulin sensitivity of young men over the course of 3 months.

In the study, 25 unfit young men who did no exercise were divided into 3 groups. The first group did not change their workout routines. The second took up a typical endurance-style workout by pedalling for 45 minutes on a stationary bike at a moderate pace. The final group took up interval training, beginning with a two-minute warm up followed by 20 seconds of vigorous pedalling, alternating 2 minutes of slow pedalling with 20 seconds of sprint cycling two more times, totalling in 60 seconds of strenuous activity.

The result showed that the group exercising for 1 minute had increased their fitness and improved blood sugar levels as much as the group exercising for 45 minutes.

?I think there is good evidence that shows you can see comparable benefits despite the fact that intervals require less total exercise and reduced time commitment,? said Gibala.

Shorter workouts, such as the popular HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) have been proven to be as effective, if not more so, as longer workouts.

The great benefits of these snappy workouts is that short bursts means we are capable of pushing our intensity level up, so we train harder, knowing that it is for a shorter period of time. These bursts can be as short as 20 seconds to produce an effect known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), whereby your body has to burn a higher rate of calories. This elevated rate can remain for up to 10 hours after working out. And it can increase by as much as 35 extra calories an hour, which means you could be burning an extra 350 calories throughout the day just by doing a 4 minute workout. Sounds good to us!

The other bonus of these short workouts is that since there are so easily achievable, they are more likely to become a habit. You know that no matter how busy your day is you will still be able to squeeze in that workout. This leads to a positive spiral as you start to see results, you will have more energy and feel fitter.

Read on for more short workouts that make a difference to your fitness and waistline…

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