Exercise Better in Short Bursts, Study Shows

Exercise can seem laborious not just because of the physical effort involved, but because of the time it takes to get a proper workout. Now, a new study shows short bursts of activity are equally effective at promoting fitness.

Lack of time is one of the major reasons people cite for failing to make a commitment to regular exercise. Now, a new study could blow away the myth that staying in shape takes hours of dedication.

Canadian researchers have found that short bursts of high intensity exercise is a time efficient and effective means of getting fit. The claim was made after a study into the benefits of “high-intensity interval training,” known as HIT, proved to have effective results.

“Doing ten one-minute bursts of activity on an exercise bike, interspersed by one-minute rests, three times a week, works as well in improving muscle as many hours of conventional long-term biking less strenuously,” said lead researcher Dr. Martin Gibala at Ontario’s McMaster University.

Previous studies indicated that exerting all-out effort during a high-interval training session yielded the same results as a long walk or bike ride, even though it required less time and physical effort. Now, the new study indicates that a less extreme form of HIT works just as well.

“We have shown that interval training does not have to be ‘all-out’ to be effective,” Dr. Gibala said.

However, researchers could not establish why HIT was so effective. During the study it was noted that while the participants exercised for short periods leading to maximum heart rate, their muscles improved as though they had been through endurance training. According to Dr. Gibala, HIT appeared to “stimulate many of the same cellular pathways: as traditional training regimes.”

Whatever the reason, a lack of free time may no longer be a valid excuse for those looking to get into shape.

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