Those keen to get fit will get more bang for their buck by
doing short, intense spurts of exercise rather than going for
a traditional jog or bike ride, a sports scientist says.
Nick Draper of the University of Canterbury said
high-intensity interval training could provide a time-saving
alternative to traditional endurance exercise, and actually
has more health benefits.
Athletes have known the benefits of interval training - short
repetitions of high-intensity exercise separated by breaks or
low intensity exercise - for years, but Dr Draper and his
team tested whether it could be equally applied to obese,
previously sedentary people.
"In terms of overall fitness the high-intensity groups worked
as well as traditional training but there were great time
savings," he said.
"The high-intensity groups also had a better improvements in
blood pressure, and their ability to work below maximum was
also improved. Say you were running at an exercise intensity
of 120 beats per minute, the endurance training group might
have dropped by about 5 beats per minute whereas the
high-intensity group dropped by about 10 beats."
Dr Draper said a lack of time was the most common reason gave
for people not exercising, and he hoped the research would
encourage people to get active - even if for shorter periods
"Traditional so-called 'fat-burning' exercise involves
someone walking, running or cycling continuously for 20 to 40
minutes during each session. Whereas studies of high
intensity interval training as a time-saving alternative have
meant that those taking part in this type of exercise have
only needed to exercise for less than half this time.
"It does provide a time-saving alternative and you can get
more bang for your buck in terms of that effect on your body,
particularly your cardiovascular system and blood pressure."
He said people also needed to consider potential risks before
embarking on a high-intensity workout regime.