That 150-minutes-a-week target was designed with heart disease and diabetes in mind. However, even smaller amounts of exercise can offer protection. In a study of 207 people with high blood pressure, Japanese researchers found that people who got as few as 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity a week were able to reduce their blood pressure to safer level, especially compared to individuals who didn’t exercise at all. People who were just a little more active-getting in 60 to 90 minutes per week-saw even greater drops; they achieved up to 70 percent of the benefit of people who got more than 120 minutes a week.
Recent research from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, suggests that spending less time working out a faster pace may deliver similar protection against heart disease and diabetes as longer, moderate intensity workouts. The researchers had one group of men preform interval workouts for 10 minutes, three times a week. Another group jogged steadily for 50 minutes three times a week. Both groups gained the same heart and diabetes protection-and they loss the same weight. While no one recommends only working out for 30 minutes a week, the option is there if you’re strapped for time.