How can I get fit quickly?

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1. Less is more?

In the 21st Century, it’s easy to be lazy. You can sit to work, to travel and to be entertained. This comfort comes at a cost though – your body won't get the exercise it needs to be healthy.

But some of us don’t have the time, or the interest, to join a gym or go for a run.

I've been exploring a way to exercise that only takes a few minutes, a few times a week. It's free and you can do it anywhere, any time. Welcome to the world of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

2. HIIT made simple

While High Intensity Interval Training might sound complicated, it's actually really simple. Our participants weren't regular exercisers, but they had no underlying medical problems. If you have any concerns about your health, or if you've been inactive for some time, check with your GP before starting a programme. All the Trust Me participants had an electrocardiogram screening prior to starting the experiment.

The warm up

Before you start, warm up for two minutes. This could comprise of walking on the spot, joint rotations and low intensity versions of the exercises to be undertaken.

The workout

  • Exercise as hard as you can for 60 seconds. You can use any exercise move as long as doing it gets you out of breath.
  • Rest for 90 seconds.
  • Repeat 60 seconds of work, 90 seconds of rest another four times.
  • That's it, you're done for the day.
  • Repeat this workout three times per week.

Does it work?

The six people in the Trust Me, I'm a Doctor experiment got fitter at home by following this programme for just four weeks – their VO2 max (the maximum amount of oxygen a person's body can breathe in and use) improved by an average of 12%. While this is a small sample size, larger laboratory-based studies have produced similar, or better, results. And HIIT is really flexible. You can use any exercise move as long as it gets your heart racing. Our participants used three different moves (high knees, star jumps and mountain climbers) to keep things interesting but you could do short bursts on a bike if that works for you.

3. Burpee: total workout

Trainers love to get their clients doing burpees. They’re great for HIIT and work muscles across the body. Click or tap the interactive video below to learn how to do one. Don’t forget to do a two minute warm up before attempting it yourself.

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4. The exercise effect

What is actually happening to your body during exercise? And how can it improve your health? Click or tap on the labels to find out more.

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5. What's the point?

Getting fit is not just for people training for sports events. It can make a huge difference to all aspects of your day-to-day life.


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Keep it in check

Cardiovascular exercise helps to control weight, if combined with the right diet. Unfortunately, exercise doesn't give you licence to eat absolutely anything!

Physical health

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Become healthier

Exercise helps to maintain every system of the body, from blood pressure to bowels, as well as keeping illness such as cardiovascular disease at bay.

Mental health

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Get a boost

Exercise gives your mood a boost. The NHS advises that it can help people with mild depression and help protect against anxiety.

Everday activities

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Get out of breath less

Everyday activities like walking up stairs and chasing after kids will be easier to do if your heart and lungs are able to transport oxygen more efficiently.