Just two minutes of high-intensity training (HIT) exercise per week can help prevent type 2 diabetes, a new study has claimed.
Researchers from the Abertay University, UK, believe that HIT is the perfect way for people who are time-poor to improve their health.
In the study, overweight adults - a group at high-risk of developing diabetes - took part in a HIT regime for a period of eight weeks.
This involved completing twice-weekly sprints on an exercise bike, with each sprint lasting just six seconds.
Ten sprints were completed in total during each session, amounting to just two minutes of exercise per week.
This short, but high-intensity, regime was enough to significantly improve cardiovascular health and insulin sensitivity - the body's ability to clear glucose from the bloodstream - in the participants, and is the first time that so little exercise has been shown to have such significant health benefits, researchers said.
Previous research by the same team had shown that three HIT sessions a week were required, but this study has eclipsed these results by showing that the same can be achieved with just two.
"With this study, we investigated the benefits of high-intensity training (HIT) in a population group known to be at risk of developing diabetes: overweight, middle-aged adults," Dr John Babraj, who heads the high-intensity training research team at Abertay University said.
"We found that not only does HIT reduce the risk of them developing the disease, but also that the regime needs to be performed only twice a week in order for them to reap the benefits," Babraj said.
Babraj said lack of time to exercise, due to work or family commitments, is cited as the most common barrier to participation.
So high-intensity training offers a really effective solution to this problem and has the added benefit of reducing disease risk which activities such as walking – even if done five days a week for 30 minutes - don't offer.
"There is a clear relationship between the intensity of exercise and the magnitude of health improvement, so it is only through these short, high-intensity sprints that health improvements can be seen," said Babraj.
The research was published in the journal Biology.