No time to exercise? Researchers say it only takes minutes
Published Thursday, April 28, 2016 1:39PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, April 28, 2016 2:23PM EDT
Think you don’t have enough time to exercise? A new study suggests you probably do, because all you need is 10 minutes.
Researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont. have found that a total of 60 seconds of intense exercise – and we mean very intense exercise – can be just as beneficial as 45 minutes of exercising at a moderate pace.
Interval training has gotten a lot of attention in recent years, with several studies showing it can improve cardiovascular fitness. The approach involves working out for a short period then recovering for a period then going hard again.
But few studies have compared interval training to regular training, which is what the McMaster team set out to do.
Led by Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster, the researchers recruited 27 sedentary men and broke them into three groups.
The first group was asked to change nothing about their fitness levels for 12 weeks. The second group was asked to ride a stationary bicycle at the lab for 50 minutes at a moderate pace, three times a week.
The third group took part in 10-minute sprint interval training sessions three times a week.
First, they warmed up for two minutes. Then they were told to cycle as hard as they could for 20 seconds, followed by two minutes of easy cycling. They repeated that hard sprint/easy recovery cycle twice more, then wrapped it up with a three-minute cooldown.
Gibala says the intense interval needed to be quite intense.
“It’s as hard as you can go,” he told CTV News Channel Thursday.
“…It’s an all-out effort. So I would use the term ‘sprint from danger pace,’ or the pace you might cycle at to save your child from an oncoming car,” he said.
After 12 weeks of training, the fitness levels of the second and third groups were remarkably similar – even though the third group had worked out for only about one-fifth the time as the second group.
Both groups increased their “peak oxygen uptake,” meaning their aerobic endurance had increased. Both had better insulin sensitivity scores; and both had better scores on “skeletal muscle mitochondrial content,” which is a way of measuring their energy production.
Gibala, who has conducted several other interval training studies, says the results are yet more evidence that bursts of intense exercise are remarkably effective at improving fitness.
“Our study is a reminder of the potency of interval training,” he said.
“We know that the No. 1 cited reason for why people don’t exercise is lack of time so we’ve been interested in developing time-efficient protocols that still boost health and fitness.”
Gibala says this type of exercise is not necessarily safe for everyone and those with certain health conditions would need a gentler approach.
But he says studies have shown that even interval walking is superior to regular walking for those with Type 2 diabetes
The findings are published online in the journal PLOS ONE.