Quality not quantity!

2013September12_ExerciseGeneral_AHigh intensity training (HIT) was developed as a technique for building strength and potentially size through using weights. High intensity interval training (HIIT) is a variation on a theme and designed to really get your cardio system going with short, intense workouts that bring the muscles to the point of fatigue. HIIT is also promoted as giving your metabolism and fat-burning potential a boost. A recent study backs up this idea stating that intensity is not only effective in preventing weight gain but far more so than exercise duration.

What’s going to have more impact on stopping you from gaining weight, a full-on, intense workout or training where you simply keep on going and give it some longevity of effort? Well, according to a new study from the University of Utah, if you’re putting in a certain amount of effort, then even a relatively short burst of activity can have a real impact on stopping you piling on the pounds.

The study

The research involved 2,202 women and 2,309 men between the ages of 18 and 64, who had worn accelerometers from 2003 to 2006 and were part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Researchers identified four different exercise categories:

  1. High intensity exercise in long bouts: >10 minutes of exertion at >2,020 counts.

  2. High intensity exercise in short bouts: <10 minutes of exertion at >2,020 counts.

  3. Low intensity exercise in long bouts: >10 minutes of exertion at <2,019 counts.

  4. Low intensity exercise in short bouts: <10 minutes of exertion at ,2,019 counts.

The researchers measured changes in body mass index (BMI) which relates to weight loss and weight gain and is used as a marker for obesity.

The results

The findings suggest that high intensity exercise can really have a beneficial effect on BMI, even in short bouts. Women of the same height who added an extra minute of intense activity were able to decrease their BMI by 0.07, meaning that their weight was less by half a pound. Obesity odds decreased by 5% for women and 2% for men with each minute of high intensity exercise added on. The results for these short bursts suggested that the effects were the same for longer but less intense exercise.

Every little bit helps

The results are certainly interesting in relation to recommendations that adults are involved in around 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. It also means that having a busy schedule and life is not an excuse. Making the effort to come along to a gym or get involved in a class or training is ideal as it keeps you focused and offers you a fitness-focused environment. However, with every bit counting, no matter how short, think about how you can help your overall fitness levels with some short intense bursts:

  • Use the stairs, not the elevator and keep the pace up.

  • Use lunch hours or the after-work lull period to take a walk or do some activity. More importantly get away from your desk and move!

  • How do you get to and from work? If there’s no other way than in a car or on a bus, then get off or park up somewhere less near to your workplace and walk the rest of the way.

  • Nobody likes cleaning and clearing up so turn up the music and make it an intense workout for 20 minutes rather than spending ages cleaning laboriously.

Do you want to learn more about how you can add some intensity into your life? Get in touch.

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