3 minutes of exercise is enough to extend your life by up to 30% longer

Are "micro-workouts" the future? Research says short workouts can drastically improve your health

Side plank
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If you're looking to get into exercise in 2022, you might have any number of reasons for doing so. You might want to lose weight to look and feel your best, or be training for a race or another fitness event. However, you might be looking to get a little healthier, but struggle to make the time for long runs, gym sessions, or bike rides. 

Fortunately, you don't have to exercise for very long to start reaping a few of the benefits and offset your sedentary lifestyle. Research from Glasgow Caledonian University (opens in new tab) has found that three minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise is enough to offset an hour spent sitting down. You can get one of the best fitness trackers to alert you to every hour you've spent sitting down with little movement, so you'll never miss a micro-workout. 

GCU’s Professor of Health Behaviour Dynamics Sebastien Chastin said: “Our new formula found that three minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per hour of sitting will get the balance right and help you live a longer, healthier life. The leftover hours should be spent generally moving around as much as you can and getting a good night’s sleep. This new cocktail, or simple formula, really boosts your health protection."

Running for just 10 minutes can help lose weight

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The researchers also found that there were multiple combinations of activities associated with a 30% reduction in the odds of an early death. You could do 55 minutes of dedicated exercise a day, with four hours of light physical activity and 11 hours of sitting.

Alternatively, you could get the same benefit from 13 minutes of intense exercise, 5.5 hours of light physical activity, and 10.3 hours of sitting. Finally, you could choose to do just three minutes of exercise, six hours of light physical activity, and 9.7 hours of sitting.

Three minutes or even 13 minutes might not sound like a lot, but when combined with light exercise such as walking (either outside or on a treadmill at home), it will reduce your risk of an early death by improving cardiovascular health and undo the damage of long sedentary periods. So how do you get the most out of a very short amount of workout time?

One way to do so is via Tabata, doing high-intensity exercise for 20 seconds, resting for 10 seconds, and doing eight rounds of the above. That's just four minutes of intense work. You could do this with a rowing machine, treadmill, or any one of the best exercise machines to lose weight. Check out a sample workout below:

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and News Editor at Fit&Well, covering all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.