Most folks would like to press a magic button that makes losing weight and getting in shape a cinch.
The idea that a leaner, thinner, healthier you is as easy as working out four minutes a day may seem too good to be true.
Although he thinks it is always a good idea to incorporate more exercise into your day, Jeffrey Harrison, orthopedic surgeon and medical director of McKay-Dee Sports Medicine, said he stands by his belief that endurance and improved cardiovascular fitness are achieved only through aerobic exercise at least 30 minutes a day, three days a week.
"Anything that gets you exercising is great," Harrison said, when the 20 Second Fitness program was explained to him. He also likes that it requires little in the way of equipment, making it easy to incorporate into daily life.
The theory of higher intensity intervals is proven, Harrison said, and it is the reason for the rise in popularity of programs such as CrossFit.
CrossFit workouts last less than 30 minutes, with a 10- to 20-minute segment of ultra-high-intensity intervals such as lunges or chin-ups.
According to Harrison, 10 to 20 minutes per day of weight or resistance training, including the high-intensity intervals of CrossFit or 20 Second Fitness, is sufficient to build strength, but not cardiovascular fitness.
Spencer Larson, co-creator of 20 Second Fitness, said his program is designed to go hand in hand with cardiovascular activities such as running, biking or sports. He encourages people to add a cardiovascular program to their routine when they feel ready or have the time.
Harrison said diet is another important component when people are trying to lose weight. "We see patients who burn a lot of calories working out, but they also eat a lot of calories," he said.
Sometimes, the culprits are obvious offenders, such as sugary sodas and candy, but other times people take in more calories than they realize while trying to eat healthfully, for example, by eating too many calorie-dense nuts.
In his experience, Harrison said, most people require a regulated program that provides education and weekly weigh-ins for accountability, such as Weight Watchers, to get results. (His clinic also provides weight-loss programs.)
Although some find success in making small dietary changes as Larson suggests in his 20 Second Fitness program, that isn't the case for everyone.
"I think most people need more support," said Harrison. "That's what we've found in our practice."
Although he hasn't tried the 20 Second Fitness program personally, Harrison said it seems like a good choice, as far as being safe and effective.
He advises those who are morbidly obese or battling medical issues to consult with a physician before beginning any exercise program.
He also said he recommends lengthening the high-intensity workouts to include a cardiovascular warm-up session, a cool-down and time for stretching.
"Any exercise is good and we encourage it," Harrison said.
-- Amy Nicholson