The science behind shorter workouts revolves around the principle of intensity over duration. Research published in 2019 by Dr David Moreau from the University of Auckland’s School of Psychology, found that short, intense bouts of exercise have similar benefits on the brain as longer workouts. The study indicated that beyond the well-known benefits of exercise in general, including good heart health and mental wellbeing, short high-intensity workouts can also be the key to healthier brains and sharper minds3.
A popular form of short and impactful exercise is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). This consists of repeated, short bursts of intense exercise alternated with rest periods. During high-intensity workouts, the body experiences a surge in hormones and adrenaline. These hormones stimulate fat burning and muscle gain, leading to improved fitness and body composition4.
According to the WHO recommendations, adults aged 18 - 64 should participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week. This is the equivalent of a 20-minute walk to work every day plus one 30-minute cycle a week5.
The Ministry of Health NZ says moderate-intensity aerobic activity means working hard enough to raise the heart rate and break a sweat - but still being able to hold a conversation6. Examples of activity that require moderate effort include a fast-paced walk, bike riding on level ground or with limited incline, playing doubles tennis or pushing a lawn mower.