Just one minute of exercise a day could prevent diabetes, researchers have claimed.
Performing short cycle sprints three times a week could be enough to prevent and possibly treat type 2 diabetes, a study suggests.
Scientists at the University of Bath asked volunteers to perform two 20-second cycle sprints on exercise bikes, three times per week.
After six weeks, researchers in the university's department of health saw a 28% improvement in their insulin function.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when blood sugar levels build up to dangerously high levels due to reduced insulin function, often caused by a sedentary lifestyle.
Regular exercise can help keep blood sugar levels low but busy lifestyles and lack of motivation mean 66% of the population are not getting the recommended five 30-minute sessions of moderate exercise a week.
Dr Niels Vollaard, who is leading the study, said: "We already knew that very intense sprint training can improve insulin sensitivity but we wanted to see if the exercise sessions could be made easier and shorter."
In the study the resistance on the exercise bikes could be rapidly increased so volunteers were able to briefly exercise at much higher intensities than they would otherwise be able to achieve. With an undemanding warm-up and cool-down, the total time of each session was only 10 minutes.
Dr Vollaard said: "This is completely new. No one has ever found a programme this easy and short to provide health benefits. At the moment it has only been done in lab conditions but it would be easy to create a bike that does this in a gym setting."
The study, published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, is now being extended with more volunteers to determine if the exercise sessions can be made even shorter.