Wednesday, June 13, 2012
For years, physicians and researchers have tried to determine how much exercise a day or week is necessary to ensure good health in adults. According to an article in The New York Times (Blogs: February 15, 2012), The American Heart Association and other organizations recommend that adults engage in 30 minutes or more of continuous, moderate-intensity exercise five times a week. The problem with the recommendations is that most adults who do not exercise say they don’t because they do not have enough time. Now some researchers are looking at exercise from a somewhat different perspective. Instead of thinking about how much time needs to be dedicated to exercise, they are concentrating on how little time needs to be dedicated to exercise to maintain health. The secret may lie in interval training.
According to the article, elite athletes have always incorporated interval training, short periods of maximum exertion followed by short periods of rest, into their exercise schedules to build speed and endurance. Research has shown that short, exclusively high intensity workouts have the same benefit as longer, lower intensity, continuous exercise programs. The benefits of interval training extend to non-elite athletes. Sedentary but healthy middle aged adults alongside a group of adults with cardiovascular disease participated in a modified interval program. The modified program consisted of 10 cycles of one minute of exercise at 90 percent of a person’s maximum heart rate followed by one minute of easy recovery.
Despite committing only 20 minutes a day to exercise, within a few weeks both the healthy sedentary adults and those with cardiovascular disease demonstrated improvement in their health and fitness. The adults with cardiovascular disease had no complications and reported they liked the shorter workouts more than the usually recommended longer but low intensity workouts. In other studies, modified high intensity workouts have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar regulation. While longer duration exercise has clearly shown to be beneficial, for those with a limited amount of time, high intensity brief duration exercise may be the way to go.
Noted by WVR, MD
*This filler excerpt can be found in the June 2012 Pediatrics print journal p. 1034, or via online here.
Posted by Dr. Lewis R. First at 12:01 AM