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 'Paging Dr. Gupta' "The 21 Minute Workout"

Aired March 15, 2004 - 08:30   ET

HEMMER: Medical news this morning. A new exercise in fast fitness takes just 21 minutes per week. And you don't even break a sweat. Too good to be true? Good marketing?

Dr. Sanjay Gupta is back with us, and back from vacation as well.

Great to have you back. Good morning to you. What's the lowdown here?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'll tell you, Bill, no showers, no locker rooms, no towels, and you don't even have to change out of your street clothes, but do you need intense focus for about 21 minutes a week, packing a lot of exercise into a small amount of time, even busy morning anchors can find that time.

Listen, here is how the workout is structured. This is something that is really catch on, convenience fitness it's called. Here's how the workout is structured. You basically have a coach who ushers you through several different machines very quickly. It's about two to three minutes on each machine. You work the machines in a slow manner, about eight to 12 seconds in each direction for two to three minutes total on each machine. Those continuous, slow movements work several muscles at a time. You work those muscles to fatigue, to just to the point where the muscles start to break down, and then you rotate to work the rest of the body.

Convenience fitness is, again, as I mentioned, really starting to catch on. The big question is, is it enough? And a lot of people we talked to about that says depends on what your goals are. If you want to lose weight, this is probably not the best sort of routine, although getting out of the house, getting off the couch, better than nothing at all. But it also, this resistance training may build your metabolic mass, may build your metabolic rate up, and some muscle mass in the long run. So some exercise people promoting this a little bit more than we thought they would.

HEMMER: Can I call BS on this, as in bologna sandwich -- 21 minutes, not a day, this is a week. Is there true benefit here, or is this a clever marketing ploy?

GUPTA: Well, you're going to see the science behind something like this yet, but I will say this, if you start to build up muscle mass, there is some evidence that if you build up the muscle mass, you're going to increase your metabolic rate. What does that mean? It means even when you're sitting, even when you're doing things besides exercising, you're going to burn more calories than you otherwise would.

Here's the second thing: that once you exercise, if you exercise your muscles to the point of fatigue, you need some time to let those muscles repair. How long? Some people say a few days, perhaps a week even. That's where the week comes in here, 21 minutes a week. This is based on a concept that we've talked about before on AMERICAN MORNING, something called super slow or the eight-minute workout. Essentially doing these exercises very slowly gives the muscle a time to work out during the entire cycle. You're not going to see any boomboxes, or mirrors or any other distractions in gyms like this, intense focus, 21 minutes a week. These people say it works.