The Benefits of Brief, Intense Exercise

A few minutes of brief, intense exercise may be as effective as lengthier walks or other moderate workouts
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A few minutes of brief, intense exercise may be as effective as much lengthier walks or other moderate workouts for incinerating body fat, according to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Studies have shown that interval workouts can improve aerobic fitness, blood sugar control, blood pressure and other measures of health and fitness to the same or a greater extent than standard endurance training, such as brisk walking or jogging, even if the standard training lasts two or three times as long.

In the report, researchers from Brazil and Great Britain pulled together data from 36 studies comparing the effects of endurance training to those from interval workouts. The experiments had to have lasted at least a month and included body-composition measurements at the start and finish. The researchers pooled numbers from the studies, giving them a total of more than 1,000 participants, young and old, male and female.

The moderate-exercise routines used in the studies varied from walking to jogging, cycling or swimming. The endurance-style workouts generally lasted about 40 minutes.

Both moderate training and intervals of all types led to reductions in body fat, the researchers found. These reductions were absolute, meaning that people shed some of their actual fat mass, and also relative, meaning that they lowered the percentage of their body mass that was fat.

The changes also usually occurred whether or not people lost a noticeable amount of overall weight, suggesting that they might be losing fat while gaining muscle.

Interval training, especially Sprint Interval Training (S.I.T.) workouts, often burned more fat than prolonged moderate exercise, with interval trainers dropping an average of about 3.5 pounds of fat during most studies, versus about 2.5 pounds for moderate exercisers.


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