The common excuse that there is not enough time to exercise effectively is now wearing thin as scientists have claimed that short but intensive bursts of workout are as effective as hours of moderate training.
The study into the benefits of "high intensity interval training", known as HIT, by McMaster University, Canada, suggested that staying in shape is not at all a time-consuming affair.
The researchers found that HIT is "a time-efficient but safe alternative to traditional types of moderate long term exercise".
HIT involves running or cycling at almost maximum effort for a minute and then resting for a minute before repeating the process around 10 times, The Telegraph reported.
For their study, volunteers rode an exercise bike in stints lasting just 60 seconds while peddling hard enough to get close to their maximum heart rate. Tests afterwards showed that their muscles had improved as much as if they had been involved in endurance training.
Prof Martin Gibala, who led the research, said the study "proved that it was possible to get more by doing less".
His report, published in the Journal of Physiology, said it was not clear why HIT was so effective but it appeared to "stimulate many of the same cellular pathways" as traditional training regimes.
"The findings also meant that a lack of free time was no longer an excuse for refusing to exercise," Prof Gibala said.