7 Minutes Too Much? Behold, the New 4-Minute Workout!

Improve your aerobic capacity, metabolic and cardiovascular health in almost no time at all

There's more good news from the science world, following on last month's wave of excitement over the 7-minute workout (which was actually more like a  21-minute workout).  Namely, you can significantly improve your fitness with a science-backed 4-MINUTE WORKOUT! And that's total time.

Here's the research, and it comes from Norway by way of The New York Times. For years, Norwegian scientiests have been studying high-intensity interval training (HIIT) using intense, four-minute intervals performed at 90 percent of maximum heart rate. The intervals are repeated four times with a three-minute rest in between, for a total exercise time of 16 minutes. Problem is, the researchers thought this was too much time to win over the majority of today's time-crunched masses.

Next, they decided to see how a single, four-minute workout stacked up against the repetitious, 16-minute version. Could it effectively improve health and fitness?

To find out, they assembled 26 overweight and sedentary middle-aged men, measured their baseline health and fitness, then split them into two groups with different routines.

One half warmed up, ran on a treadmill at 90 percent of their maximum heart rate for four four-minute intervals, with three minutes of walking between, then briefly cooled down. They repeated the workout three times a week for 10 weeks.

The second group did only a single, taxing four-minute run, also completing this workout three times a week for 10 weeks.

At the end of the study, the men had increased their VO2 max by an average 10 percent or more, with no remarkable differences in gains between the two groups. Improved, too, was their metabolic (better blood sugar) and cardiovascular health (better blood pressure).

Significantly, few of the men lost much body fat. Rather than a weight-loss program, consider the 4-Minute Workout a jump-start to better fitness, or a way to maintain fitness when you are really pressed for time. All you have to do is sprint or run up stairs for four minutes at a pace that raises your heart rate to 90 percent of its max.

Think you can find time in your busy schedule for that?