With Exercise, Do Less?

  • 1 Minute Read

IS there a place in our healthy lifestyles for the micro-workout? This topic has been recently discussed at the American College of Sports Medicine conference.

With Exercise, Do Less?

We all know that exercise is an important component of losing weight and living a healthy lifestyle. And we also know that most people do not get enough exercise. But what is enough - does it have to do with how long we exercise each day, our total minutes for the week, or how hard we exercise?

At the recent American College of Sports Medicine conference in Indianapolis the "hot topic" was not about how much exercise one should get, but how little. Many experts weighed in on the benefits of micro-workouts.

This idea certainly has appeal, as we all lead busy lives, but how effective can it really be to do daily three-minute workouts and expect amazing results? How much of it is hype and how much of it is helpful?

According to the published guidelines put forth by the Health and Human Services Department in 2008, we should all be getting 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week - such as five 30-minute brisk walks. If your exercise is more vigorous, like jogging, one could get away with only 75 minutes. According to the guidelines, this amount of exercise was associated with longer life and a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other illnesses.

However, studies published since 2008 have shown that 80 percent of Americans do not exercise moderately for 150 minutes each week. This has opened a door for the "micro-workout." At the foundation of this movement was Martin Gibala's 2006 study showing that a three-minute sequence on a stationary bicycle of 30 seconds of all-out pedaling followed by a brief rest, repeated 5-6 times, had the same muscle-cell adaptations as 90-120 minutes of prolonged cycling. This study quickly became the most-emailed story in The Journal of Physiology.

A group of Norwegian scientists, more recently, found that three four-minute runs a week (running at 90 percent of one's maximum heart rate) improved a subject's endurance capacity by 10 percent after 10 weeks.

Another study showed that 16-30 minutes of high-intensity exercises each week improves certain markers of health, such as improved blood pressure and blood sugar levels after several weeks.

However, there have not been any long-term studies involving more than a couple dozen volunteers (comprising mostly of men). So there is yet no definitive answer to how helpful these micro-workouts will be in the long run, but one thing is clear. Any exercise is better than no exercise. And if you have a busy week where it's hard to get to the gym for an hour, don't give up on exercise totally. Go hard for what time you have!

Jun 27, 2013
Ryan Newhouse - health writer, MyNetDiary

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