TIME Exercise/Fitness

Introducing the One-Minute Workout

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You no longer have any excuses

We get it, you’re busy. But it turns out you don’t need very much time in the gym to improve your health. In fact, it might only take one—yes one—high intensity minute of exercise to do the trick.

New research published in the journal PLOS One shows sedentary men and women who did one minute of intense, all-out exercise as part of a full 10-minute workout three times a week for six weeks improved their endurance and lowered their blood pressure.

A total of 14 sedentary and overweight men and women agreed to have their muscles biopsied and their aerobic endurance and blood pressure and sugar levels measured by researchers at McMaster University in Ontario. Then, they hopped on stationary bikes and warmed up for two minutes. After the warmup, the participants biked as hard as they possibly could for three 20 second intervals followed by two minutes of slow pedaling. They ended with a three minute cool-down, adding up to a total of 10 minutes. They did this three times a week, coming out to 30 minutes of exercise a week.

After six weeks, the participants were measured again, and the researchers discovered the they improved their endurance levels by about 12%, had better blood pressure levels, and improved muscle activity. The men in the group also had improved blood sugar levels.

MORE: Short bursts of exercise are better than exercising nonstop

This isn’t the first time researchers from McMaster University have touted the positive effects of short bursts of high-tensity exercise. Martin Gibala, the chairman of the department of kinesiology at McMaster University, has spent years studying the benefits of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and whether it’s equally beneficial as moderate exercise over a longer period. In fact, high intensity interval training has become somewhat of a mainstay in the fitness circuit, many also crediting Japanese researcher Izumi Tabata for coming up with the The Tabata Protocol: 20 seconds of intense work followed by 10 seconds of resting, repeated many times.

The problem with high intensity intervals is that, well, it can suck. It’s truly hard to really get your body to that level of intensity, especially if you’re not in tip top shape. Even proponents of the seven-minute workout say: “Those seven minutes should be, in a word, unpleasant.”

Critics of short spurt workouts—the seven-minute workout is a popular version—argue that while some exercise is better than no exercise, more is usually better and people who really need to exercise like the elderly and people who are overweight, might find it too difficult or even dangerous.

That’s why the researchers decided to investigate just how short they could cut the workout to and still get some of the same health benefits, The New York Times reports. As it turns out, you really can gain a fitness advantage from a short period of time. People will gain more or less from the workout based on their starting level of fitness, and most exercise enthusiasts recommend mixing up your routine over doing the same workout everyday to avoid injuries and work different muscles. But if you hit snooze one too many times, rest assured you can still get in a quality workout in less time than you may think.

Read next: 5 Fitness Trends to Try in 2015

TIME Exercise/Fitness

Why Running May Really Be The Fountain of Youth

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Charriau Pierre—Getty Images

Elderly people who run show similar fitness to 20-year-olds

Older people who run several times a week actually expend the same amount of energy when they walk as a 20-year-old, according to a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder and Humboldt State University picked 30 healthy older volunteer adults around age 69 who either walked or ran regularly for exercise. The participants walked on a treadmill at the speeds 1.6 mph, 2.8 mph, and 3.9 mph while their oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production were measured.

People who were runners had similar energy intake to a group of young adults in their 20s from a prior study. However, those elderly men and women who regularly walked did not see that same benefit, and expended up to 22% more energy than the younger crowd.

That could be because runners have better muscle efficiency compared to walkers, or because more vigorous exercise may better train the body. But it doesn’t mean that walking doesn’t have its share of health perks. Walkers still experienced a lower risk for ailments like heart disease and depression.

The researchers say more studies should look at the link between exercise and the effects of age on the body. The authors write that it’s unknown whether there is “an intensity threshold of aerobic exercise that is needed to prevent the decline in walking economy.” But that knowledge could be useful in preventing some of the degenerative side effects of old age.

MONEY Health Care

The Hidden Financial Benefits of Keeping Yourself Fit

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Investing in fitness can generate financial rewards as well as health benefits.

You know exercise is good for you. What you may not know is that working out can have financial benefits too.

Plenty of research suggests that overweight people spend more on health care, but it’s not just the thin who stand to save. Fact is, regardless of your weight, if you’re a couch potato you’re likely missing out on earning and saving opportunities.

The Payoff in Your Paycheck

Health care costs aren’t the only way physical activity is a benefit. People who work out regularly, as in at least three times per week, are more productive at work than those who don’t, according to research published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Those who get sufficient exercise also miss fewer workdays, according to the same study. Those absences can translate to lost income and lost opportunities for advancement.

Another study published in the Journal of Labor Research found that men who work out regularly can expect to make 6% more than their sedentary counterparts, on average. For women, the pay boost is higher: Fitness-savvy females make 10% more, on average.

A Nudge From the Boss

If you’re not already working out, it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to start.

For starters, some employers just flat-out pay their employees to work out as part of workplace wellness initiatives. For example, IBM offers cash to employees who meet certain fitness goals. Employees at Google and Zappos can use on-site fitness classes and facilities, enabling them to skip membership fees at traditional gyms. Even if your company doesn’t currently offer wellness benefits, it might soon: Under the Affordable Care Act, employers can receive grants to get one started.

Your employer may have a deal worked out with a local gym where employees can get discounted rates. Even if your company doesn’t offer such an incentive, chances are that your health insurance provider does. UnitedHealthcare offers reimbursements of $20 per month to members who use one of many participating gyms, while Blue Cross Blue Shield has worked out a $25 membership fee for their members at over 8,000 gyms nationwide. These insurance giants aren’t the only ones in on the game—most health care insurers offer some type of fitness benefit for members.

Just Do It

On the other hand, skipping the gym altogether may be your biggest money saver. If a participating fitness center isn’t available near you, or you’re just not the gym-going type, there are plenty of ways to get in shape for free. You can use the myriad online videos in the comfort and privacy of your own home, such as those offered on Bodyrock.TV or YouTube’s workout channel. If you like mobile apps, try Daily Workouts free app, or iPump. If you’re close with your co-workers you can start a lunchtime walking group. Your boss may just end up rewarding you for it.

Read more from NerdWallet Health, a website that empowers consumers to find high quality, affordable health care and lower their medical bills.

TIME Exercise/Fitness

5 Reasons to Exercise That Aren’t Weight Loss

Why you shouldn't give up the gym

Despite conventional calorie-burning wisdom, some people appear to not lose weight when they exercise, says a new study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. In fact, some actually gain weight, and it’s not all muscle mass.

The study, by Arizona State University in Phoenix researchers, looked at 81 sedentary, overweight women who exercised three times a week for 30 minutes in a lab. After 12 weeks, the researchers found that some women lost weight while others gained weight. But when they tried to identify what was causing the differences, they couldn’t come to any conclusions. “In reality, most people do not achieve or sustain weight loss, no matter what method they try,” wrote New York Times writer Gretchen Reynolds on Wednesday.

Basically, major bummer. But there are many other reasons to exercise besides trying to shed a few pounds, and they’re equally important for your health:

1. Memory Loss: Chronic inflammation and hormonal imbalances are a couple of factors that can play a part in memory loss, and exercise can help both. Exercise promotes better blood flow through the body, and the brain works better with a healthy blood supply. For example, a 2012 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease showed that people who spent time on a stationary bike had better memory recall than those who were sedentary.

2. Stress: Exercise has long been prescribed as a way to burn off steam and relax. It’s even recommended as a way to fight depression. How? Exercise keeps the brain occupied, and keeps the stress hormone cortisol in check which can lower symptoms for anxiety and restlessness, according to The Exercise Cure, by sports medicine physician Dr. Jordan Metzl. After a rough day at work or before a big exam or interview, even just a walk around the block can ease nerves.

3. Fatigue: It may sound counterintuitive, but working out can actually make you less tired than skipping the gym. A 2007 University of Georgia study showed that sedentary people could lower their fatigue by 65% if they started engaging in regular low intensity exercise. Increasing energy through exercise is also a safer and cheaper alternative to turning to quick fixes like energy drinks.

4. Cardiovascular disease: Getting regular exercise does the heart some good. In a 2012 study, researchers found that people who partook in moderate intensity exercise like brisk walking compared to leisurely walking reduced their chances of developing risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. The effect might be related to exercise’s benefits on lowering inflammation in the body.

5. Lower back pain: Back pain is a very common ailment, and studies have shown that the right kind of exercises like strength training can lower pain. Exercise is also one of the simplest ways to protect your body from future injuries.

 

TIME Exercise/Fitness

Here’s Your New Reason to Demand a Treadmill Desk

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The health benefits of anything-but-sitting

Active workstations do more than just burn on-the-clock calories, finds a new study in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. Standing desks and treadmill desks might make you healthier while also improving mood and not interfering with work.

Study co-author Michael Sliter, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at Purdue University-Indianapolis, wondered if active workstations were good for anything but caloric expenditure on company time. “That would be of limited value if people actually performed worse, were stressed out when they were doing it, or got bored of it,” he says. So the study assigned 180 people to one of four workstations: a seated desk, standing desk, treadmill desk or cycling desk. After a bit of practice, they did 35 minutes worth of tasks. Researchers measured their performance and how much they liked their workstation in reported levels of boredom, stress, satisfaction and how engaged they were in the task.

MORE: This Hamster Wheel Treadmill Desk Is the Ideal Way to Make Your Coworkers Hate You

“We were able to show that these active workstations have psychological benefits without performance detriment,” says Sliter—for the most part, that is. People at treadmill desks were less bored, less stressed and more satisfied than those at seated, standing or cycling desks. In terms of how well people were able to do their job, everyone performed equally except for the desk cyclists. Turns out, Sisyphean pedaling while whizzing through Excel spreadsheets doesn’t do your work performance or mental health any favors: desk cyclists generally performed worse and were less satisfied, though Sliter says they were probably too uncomfortable to be bored.

“It was kind of funny watching people, because you could actually see their arms moving up and down while they were pedaling,” says Sliter, who walks on his treadmill desk about three hours a day. “We found that you can’t really work very well when you’re also pedaling.”

Being active at work is one way to combat the dreaded sitting-desk syndrome: loads of research shows that seated desks are a ticking time bomb for your health. This new study shows that standing up to sitting at work has more than just physical benefits—it might help your mind, too.

MORE: VIDEO: Walking While Working

TIME Apple

3 Features a Nike-Apple Wearable Absolutely Must Have

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Apple's wearable will target fitness nuts. Here's what it has to be able to do—with Nike's help

Nike and Apple have had a special relationship since 2006 when the companies announced a partnership that created a sports-oriented ecosystem around iPods and Nike running shoes. Since then iPods and iPhones have been tightly integrated with Nike+, the Portland-based sports giant’s activity- and exercise-tracking social network. (Apple CEO Tim Cook is also on Nike’s board of directors.)

Now they may be working together to improve wearables. In an Oct. 22 interview with Bloomberg, Nike CEO Mark Parker said he is “bullish” on the two firms’ joint ambitions. He went on to explain:

As I look ahead at what’s possible with Nike and Apple…technologically we can do things together that we couldn’t do independently. So yeah, that’s part of our plan, is to expand the whole digital frontier in terms of wearables and go from 25 million Nike+ users to hundreds of millions.

Expanding the wearables “frontier” is likely to start with Apple’s upcoming Watch, which will go on sale sometime early next year. The device will pack sensors that can not only track movement, but differentiate between types of exercise as well as capture the heart rate of the person wearing it.

When Apple showed off the device earlier this year, executives emphasized its fitness applications. (The company hired Nike’s former design director last year to work on wearable devices.) And during the keynote, a Nike-branded app for the Watch was shown briefly.

What could the two companies be working on? Impossible to say. But here are three features I hope they build into whatever it is they are doing together.

Intelligent music management. Nike’s iPod and iPhone apps have always been able to control music playback. Some versions have also included a “power song” feature—a user designated tune intended to motivate through crunch time. Apple’s Watch will also be able to control music playback through a connected iPhone. But, as far as exercising goes, this is all uber-basic.

Even better would be to be able to generate playlists automatically based on track BPMs, a.k.a the speed of each song, and the desired intensity of a given workout. So, for instance, for an easy recovery run, a set of slower-paced songs might be strung together. Similarly, correlating personal performance data with listening history could yield interesting insights, such as you run your best splits to “X” album or “Y” artist.

Additional sports. This is an easy one. Despite forays into other sports, Nike’s apps have been strongest on running. With the integration of a connected phone’s WiFi and GPS data, a wearable app should be compatible with a wider array of sports. Cycling and golf are two obvious ones—with the device tracking performance for the former sport and location and weather conditions for the later.

Deeper social integration. According to this summer’s keynote presentation, Nike’s Apple Watch app will allow you to challenge friends to runs, much like its software currently does. But the Watch’s so-called “taptic” feedback—small vibrations and audio cues that simulate a gentle tap on the wrist—open up new opportunities.

For example: recording and trading “ghosts” for runs that would gently let you know when you’re outpacing or falling behind a friend on a run of a similar distance or course. Or, if two users both have watches, they might be able to swap route information, say, a favorite place to run, using the Watch’s built in communications.

TIME health

Why So Many Women Are Crying at the Gym

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Yoga mudra Stefano Oppo—Getty Images

For a generation of stressed-out working women, exercise is as much about emotional release as it is physical training.

“Let it out! Let out the sludge!”

It’s 7am on a Tuesday, at a small dance studio in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood, and Taryn Toomey is stomping her feet into the floor like thunder. “Get rid of the bullsh*t!” she shouts. “Get rid of the drama!”

Two dozen women in yoga pants and sports bras sprint in place behind her, eyes closed, arms flailing. Sweat is flying. The Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” is blaring in the background. There are grunts and screams. “Hell yes!” a woman bellows.

When the song ends, Toomey directs the group into child’s pose, torso folded over the knees, forehead on the floor, arms spread forward. Coldplay comes on, and there is a moment of rest. “Inhale. Exhale. Feel your center,” Toomey says. Heads slowly come up, and suddenly, tears are streaming down the faces of half the room. A woman in front of me is physically trembling. “I just let it all out,” a middle-aged woman in leggings and a tank top whispers.

This is “The Class”—one part yoga, two parts bootcamp, three parts emotional release, packaged into an almost spiritual… no, tribal… 75 minutes. It is the creation of fashion exec turned yoga instructor Toomey, and it is where New York’s high-flying women go for emotional release (if, that is, they can get a spot).

“During my first class I didn’t just cry, I sobbed,” says McKenzie Hayes, a 22-year-old New Yorker who has become a regular in the class. “Whether it’s your job or your relationships, I literally picture my emotional problems being slowly unstuck from my body and moved out.”

Toomey calls that “sludge”: it’s the emotional baggage we carry in our muscles that has nowhere else to go. She’s not a doctor. But week after week, she encourages participants to sweat, scream and cry out those emotions, in the company of a group of mostly women who are doing the same. “I’ve had classes where people are literally on all fours sobbing,” Toomey says. “But it’s not just my class, it’s happening everywhere. Emotional release in public can feel very uncomfortable. But I think there’s a growing movement of people who want to find a space for it.”

Indeed, the message to women has long been to hide your tears lest you look weak. (Among the tactics: jutting out your jaw. Breathing exercises. Chewing gum. Drinking water.) Yet while crying in the office may remain a feminine faux pas, tears at the gym seem to have lost their stigma — to the extent that there are a bevy of fitness courses that even encourage it.

For Asie Mohtarez, a Brooklyn makeup artist, it began in hot yoga. The music was on, the floor was warm, the instructor was standing over her encouraging her to let go. “I was in child’s pose and I just lost it,” she says. Then, two weeks later, it happened again – this time at Physique 57. The Dirty Dancing soundtrack came on and it was waterworks again. “There’s something about these classes that feel safe,” says the 33-year-old. “I can’t cry at work. I’m not emotionally distraught enough to cry in the shower. I can’t just burst into tears in front of my husband. So, what does that leave you with?”

You could go to therapy – or you could hit the gym. Women are getting teary in SoulCycle, and misty-eyed at Pure Barre. They are letting out wails in yoga and rubbing the shoulder of the weepy woman next to them at CrossFit. “I think people have started to notice that their clients are just showing up to class and just unloading, and so they’re tailoring their classes to create space for this,” says Hayes, who is a pilates instructor by day. “When I take private clients I end up feeling like a therapist for them.”

These fitness instructors aren’t trained in that, of course. But they’ve probably been there.

“I usually just go over to the student after class and quietly ask how they’re feeling,” says Kristin Esposito, a yoga instructor in Los Angeles who sees criers often. “My classes are focused on release so it feels pretty natural.”

Physiologically, it is: Exercise releases endorphins, which interact with serotonin and dopamine, the chemicals that impact mood. In yoga, deep hip openers – like the “pigeon pose” – are meant to stir emotions (yogis believe our emotional baggage lives in our hips).

But many of the newer courses are specifically choreographed to release emotion, too – making it all that much more intense. The lights are dim, candles flicker in the background. It’s not an accident that just as you’re starting to relax, coming down from the adrenaline, you’re blasted with a throaty ballad. Those playlists are meticulously constructed. “I’ve been teaching for almost 20 years, so I’ve basically seen it all: crying, laughing, throwing up, overheating,” says Stacey Griffith, a Soul Cycle instructor. “There are moments in the class that are directly programmed for that reason – but it’s not like we’re trying to get people to cry. We’re giving them the space to step outside of themselves.”

And indeed, that may be necessary. We’re busier, more stressed and more connected than we’ve ever been. Simply finding the time to have that “space” can be near impossible, making the release that these courses offer – packaged neatly into an hour – a kind of fix. “The night before, I can’t wait,” says Hayes of Toomey’s class. “I already know what will be the flood that I’m working through. And sometimes conversations with friends just don’t cut it.”

Getting those emotions out is a good thing – at least in moderation. Emotional tears contain manganese, potassium, and a hormone called prolactin, which help lower cholesterol, control high blood and boost the immune system. Crying reduces stress, and, according to one study, from the University of Minnesota, actually improves the mood of nearly 90 percent of people who do it. “You really do feel lighter after,” says Hayes.

“To me, it’s a sign of being present, it’s a sign of feeling your feelings, of being in the moment,” says Toomey, just after “the class” has ended. Plus, shoulder to shoulder in a hot room, there is almost a sense of communal release. Of high-charged emotional camaraderie. “I so needed this,” a woman tells her on the way out, with a hug. And, of course, with that much sweat, the tears are almost hidden anyway.

Read next: I Taught Fitness and Failed a Fat Test

TIME Culture

The Unusual Way Students in China Can Earn Extra Cash

Chinese couple running together
Chinese couple running together Jade—Getty Images/Blend Images

A run for the money

Need some motivation to exercise? In China you can now hire a “running mate” – a fit stranger to run with you and help with inspiration.

Instead of a personal trainer, these running partners aren’t professionals. Most of them are students, and they’re simply meant to provide a “little old-fashioned encouragement,” according to the Global Times.

Chen Li, one of the running partners, told the Global Times that some people hire him for safety reasons at night, but others just need help shedding a few pounds. “Mr. Zhang was my first client and he hoped someone could push him to exercise because he is getting fat from long office hours,” Li said.

Running partners reportedly make up to 3,000 yuan ($490) a month from the gig.

TIME Exercise

4 Exercise Swaps That Burn More Calories

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Isolating muscles is so last year. Unless you’re rehabbing from an injury or working to strengthen a weaker part of your body, the rule of thumb should be to work as many muscles as possible with each exercise (while of course maintaining good form). The more muscles you can incorporate into each set, the more effective and efficient your workout will be.

You don’t need more time to work out; you just need more intensity. By swapping these five simple exercises you can maximize your effort and calorie burn while minimizing your time spent at the gym.

HEALTH.COM: 10 Exercise Cheats That Blow Your Calorie Burn

Squats instead of leg press machine

While a leg press is good for isolating your quads, it leaves something to be desired as a total-body exercise. The truth is you have to add so much more weight on a leg press machine to get the same effect that squatting vertically would have. And whereas the leg press includes little to no stabilizer muscle involvement (because the machine gives you total upper body support), squatting forces you to recruit those stabilizer muscles groups in order to complete each rep. That is, your hip adductors (inner thighs) to keep your knees spaced shoulder width apart, as well as your ab muscles to hold your torso in place as the knees bend. Talk about a full body exercise. Don’t forget to keep the knees right on top of the heels as you squat down—less pressure on the joints and you’ll really feel those hamstrings and glutes fire.

HEALTH.COM: 18 Moves to Tone Your Legs, Butt, and Thighs

Plank on a BOSU ball instead of crunches

In terms of overall total body effectiveness, we all know that the plank is superior to the crunch. By holding your entire body in an isometric contraction you’re strengthening everything from your abs and glutes, to your legs, back, and chest. But we’re cranking it up a little further. Adding some sort of balancing factor to your plank—in this case a BOSU ball—will have your whole body, especially your core, feeling the burn in no time. Simply place your forearms on the rounded side while you do your plank. You can also try them with your arms on the flat side. Once you master holding your BOSU ball plank for at least 30 seconds, start adding in some variations—slow mountain climbers and then adding a twist to the opposite side as you bring the knee into the chest are just a few to get your mind working. Any variation after that is fair game. Get creative!

VersaClimber instead of the bike

If you’re one of those people who loves to sit on the bike and occupy your upper body with a book or magazine while your lower body does all the work, listen up. Cardio success is not about the number of calories burned during your 45-minute session. It’s about elevating your heart rate enough for a prolonged period of time (about 20 minutes at 80% or higher) to achieve the “afterburn” effect, boosting your metabolism so you continue to burn additional calories throughout that day and the next. The VersaClimber is a great option because it incorporates upper and lower body movements at the same time, which not only keeps you engaged in the workout but also means you can cut your time spent on the machine in half. So, give it a try. In addition to preventing boredom, switching up your cardio routine will keep your body guessing and you on track to achieving your fitness goals.

HEALTH.COM: 24 Fat-Burning Ab Exercises (No Crunches!)

Dumbbell bench instead of traditional bench press

Contrary to popular belief, the bench press is not the best move for the upper body. While it may do a good job of isolating a few specific muscles, using two dumbbells instead of the traditional bar will increase your range of motion and recruit more muscles in the shoulders and back as well. Not only that, but you can add some core work into the equation by alternating arms one at a time to challenge your balance and force those abs to join the party. If you really want to kick it up a notch, try switching out the bench for a Swiss Ball and get some more stabilizers involved!

HEALTH.COM: 9 Low-Fat Foods You Shouldn’t Eat

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

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