It’s hardly news that exercise is good for you. It can help keep weight off, build a bigger brain, improve mood, and lower the risk of cancer and heart disease. Many people are put off by the idea of exercise because of time constraints. But research continues to demonstrate that you don’t have to spend an hour in the gym or on the track to get the significant health benefits.

Case in point: A new study out of Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland found that high-intensity exercise for brief periods of time may help reduce the risk of diabetes.

In the study, published in the journal BMC Endocrine Disorders, researchers had young healthy male volunteers use exercise bikes to perform rigorous 30-second sprints. Over the course of two weeks, the subjects performed 30 of these sprints (about two or three a day) for a grand total of 15 minutes of exercise.

You read that right – 15 minutes. Over the course of two weeks.

And this low-volume, high-intensity training substantially improved both insulin action and blood sugar control.

“Doing a few intense muscle exercises, each lasting only about 30 seconds each, dramatically improves your metabolism in just two weeks,” said James Timmons, a professor at the University and one of the researchers.

I’ve been an advocate of short, high-intensity training for years. Now, in addition to the many studies showing that this kind of exercise improves cardiovascular fitness and is an effective way to burn fat, the Heriot-Watt study shows that it may be an effective weapon in the fight against diabetes.

This finding is important, because it helps make the case that there’s a lot you can do for your health in very little time. If, that is, you train smart. While walking 30 minutes a day is terrific, and weight training and spin classes and all the other ways to exercise still have their place, it’s nice to know that you can still get a lot accomplished even if you have only a few minutes a day to work out.

[Ed. Note: If 15 minutes over the course of two weeks can help improve your health, there’s no excuse to avoid exercise. For more advice about staying fit and healthy, check out health expert Jonny Bowden’s site, JonnyBowden.com.]

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