By Abby Larson
Not having enough time is no longer an excuse to avoid exercising. Scientists at McMaster University in Canada published a study in The Journal of Physiology on short term high-intensity interval training (HIT), which consists of a series of short bursts of intense exercise with short recovery breaks in between. They found that HIT works as well in building muscle and improving oxygen delivery to muscles as long term exercise.
The study, headed by Professor Martin Gibala, was performed on college students on a stationary bike with a workload at about 95% maximum heart rate. Gibala found that doing 10 one-minute sprints on the stationary bike with one minute of rest in between resulted in the same physical benefits as long duration endurance biking. This means that the muscular benefits of exercise can be achieved with less time and less exercise. However, long-term exercise is still necessary for weight loss to maximize calories burned, but short-term, high intensity exercise is far more beneficial that no exercise at all.
The reasons behind these results are not yet known, but Gibala found that HIT activates some of the cellular pathways that are associated with producing the health benefits from endurance training.
These findings are not just for athletes trying to get into shape. The scientists at McMaster think that a less “all-out” HIT method can be beneficial for people who require the benefits of exercise but are not advised to exercise for prolonged periods of time. The team’s future research will examine the effects of HIT on the elderly, obese, and people with metabolic diseases such as diabetes.
So next time you only have 10-20 minutes to exercise, hop on a stationary bike to try this time-efficient and effective form of exercise. Remember, though, that exercise plans should be catered towards an individual’s fitness goals.