Benefits of 10-Minutes of Exercise Comparable to 45-Minute Workouts

A single minute of very intense exercise produces health benefits similar to longer, traditional endurance training, according to researchers at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario.


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“Brief bursts of intense exercise are remarkably effective,” says Martin Gibala, PhD, lead author of the study and a professor of kinesiology at McMaster. Gibala has been studying interval training for more than a decade. Over time, his team has experimented with different protocols in an effort to identify the most time-efficient.

This study, among others that have investigated the benefits of workouts such as high-intensity interval training, could have a large impact on future guidelines of health.

For overall cardiovascular health, current American Heart Association guidelines recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days per week for a total of 150 or at least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week for a total of 75 minutes, or a combination of moderate and vigorous intensity aerobic activity.

For the McMaster study, scientists set out to determine how sprint interval training (SIT) compared to moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT), as recommended in public health guidelines. They examined key health indicators including cardiorespiratory fitness and insulin sensitivity (a measure of how the body regulates blood sugar).

Previously the McMaster team showed that the sprint interval training protocol, which involves three 20-second ‘all-out’ cycle sprints, was effective for boosting fitness. The workout totaled just 10 minutes, including a 2-minute warm-up and 3-minute cool down, and two minutes of easy cycling for recovery between the hard sprints.


Lead Author Martin Gibala (pictured left)

It is worth noting that this new study included only male participants; however, the researchers plan to include women in a similar study in the future. A total of 27 sedentary men were recruited and assigned to one of three groups. Two groups performed three weekly sessions (either intense or moderate training for 12 weeks), or to a control group that did not exercise for 12 weeks.

The new study compared the SIT protocol with a group who performed 45-minutes of continuous cycling at a moderate pace, plus the same warm-up and cool down. After 12 weeks of training, the results were remarkably similar, even though the moderate intensity protocol involved five times as much exercise and a five-fold greater time commitment.

“Most people cite ‘lack of time’ as the main reason for not being active,” said Gibala. “Our study shows that an interval-based approach can be more efficient — you can get health and fitness benefits comparable to the traditional approach, in less time.”

“The basic principles apply to many forms of exercise,” he says. “Climbing a few flights of stairs on your lunch hour can provide a quick and effective workout. The health benefits are significant.”

The findings are published online in the journal PLOS ONE.

Source: McMaster University Daily News

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