Can three minutes of exercise a week help make you fit?
According to Dr Michael Molesley highlighted on tonights Horizon BBC 2 at 9pm just a few relatively short bursts of intense exercise, amounting to only a few minutes a week, can deliver many of the health and fitness benefits of hours of conventional exercise, according to new research. But how much benefit you get from either may well depend on your genes.
Part of the explanation is (probably) that hi intensity exercise (or HIT) uses far more of our muscle tissue than classic aerobic exercise. When you do HIT, you are using not just the leg muscles, but also the upper body including arms and shoulders, so that 80% of the body's muscle cells are activated, compared to 20-40% for walking or moderate intensity jogging or cycling.
Active exercise also seems to be needed to break down the body's stores of glucose, deposited in your muscles as a substance called glycogen. Smash up these glycogen stores and you create room for more glucose to be sucked out of the blood and stored.
To find out more check out Michael Mosley presents Horizon: The Truth About Exercise on BBC Two at 21:00 GMT on Tuesday 28 February 2012 or watch online via iplayer (UK only) afterwards.