Can’t think of anything worse than hitting the gym for an hour or going for a 5K run? Us either!
But a new study, the findings of which were published in the PLoS One journal, is claiming that a super short, intensive workout is just as effective as a longer, less intensive one.
A team of researchers from McMaster University in Canada wanted to determine if sprint interval training was a time-efficient exercise. They investigated whether it could improve heart health and insulin sensitivity to the same extent as more traditional moderate-intensity endurance exercise.
To do so, the researchers rounded up a group of 27 sedentary men and divided them into two groups — one performed three weekly sessions of sprint interval training and the other did 45 minutes of continuous, moderate-intensity cycling. The interval training group had to do three 20-second intense cycling sprints, followed by a cool-down of two minute of slower cycling. Both groups began with a two-minute warm-up and a three-minute cool-down.
So after adding in time for the warm-up and cool-downs, you’re probably looking at about a 10-minute time commitment, but finding 10 minutes to spare is much easier than taking an hour or two out of your day.
“This is a very time-efficient workout strategy,” exercise physiologist Martin Gibala, from McMaster University, said in a press statement. “Brief bursts of intense exercise are remarkably effective.”
Indeed, after each group completed 12 weeks of their assigned exercise, the interval workouts proved to be similarly effective as the moderate-intensity workout. Although the moderate-intensity workout involved five times as much exercise — which required a five-fold greater time commitment — the exercise led to the same results as the sprint interval training. Men in both groups increased their oxygen uptake by 19 percent, as well as improving their insulin sensitivity and skeletal muscle content.
“Climbing a few flights of stairs on your lunch hour can provide a quick and effective workout,” Gibala says. “The health benefits are significant.”
So, if your excuse for not staying active has always been that you don’t have the time, you’re going to have to come up with something else.
“Most people cite ‘lack of time’ as the main reason for not being active,” Gibala said. “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.”