Let’s face it. We all know that we need to exercise to keep healthy and to stay in shape but the sad fact is that a lot of us don’t exercise regularly or at all. The excuses range from, “ I just don’t like exercise,” or “I’m not an exercise person”, The most common excuse by far that represents the dilemma facing so many of us today is ….“I just don’t have the time.”
Well-meaning governments throughout the world have been recommending that we need to do 30 min of mild to moderate exercise per day. Unfortunately this recommendation is more a stab in the dark rather than being based on much science. More and more research is now showing that it’s not how much or how long you exercise it’s the intensity of your exercise that’s important…
A recent study in the Official Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine (1) shows that the same health benefits of exercise can be obtained by exercising for just a fraction of the time that you would with conventional exercise. You get these results by simply changing the intensity of the exercise.
In the study conducted at The University of Western Ontario, the researchers divided the groups into two:
One group jogged for 30 to 60 minutes a day, every day for six weeks (Endurance group).
The other group did four to six bouts of ‘all out’ 30-second sprints (with a 4-min rest between sprints) just three times per week for six weeks (Sprint group).
Both before and after the six weeks, the participant’s body composition, fitness levels were measured and they underwent a 2000m time trial.
Despite a fraction of the time commitment the sprinting group achieved the same improvements to body composition, fitness levels and athletic performance as the endurance group. That is reducing the time you need to exercise by 46.7 fold and still getting the same result! You could also save up to 411 minutes of time every week!
This adds further proof to the little known fact that exercise intensity is more important than exercise volume.
So what does this mean to you?…
It’s great news for those who have been consigned to not exercise thinking they don’t have enough spare time to exercise enough to make a tangible difference. You don’t need to exercise anywhere near the amount you think you do.
But I can hear some of you clinging on to the last bastion of exercise excuses…” But aren’t you at risk of injury or illness (e.g. heart complications) because sprinting is more strenuous.” Other studies (2) have shown that a light 2 minute warm up jog virtually eliminates the risk of heart complications and adequately screens the body to any possible physical problems that could lead to injury.
So there you have it…no more excuses. Go for a 2 minute jog around the block and then sprint up the road for 30 secs a few times and you can even check your emails and text messages on your Blackberry while you recover between sprints. Now everyone has the time to exercise!
1) Macpherson, R.E.K et al Run Sprint Interval Training Improves Aerobic Performance but Not Maximal Cardiac Output. Med. & Science in Sports & Exercise Vol 43, No 1, Jan 2011, P115-122.
2) Barnard, R.J. et al Cardiovascular Responses to sudden strenuous exercise – heart rate, blood pressure, and ECG. J. Appl .Physiol. 1973; 34:833-7