The age old wisdom used to be that you had to slog away hour after tedious hour at a monotonously noble pace to reap the exercise dividend, but could there be another and altogether more efficient way of burning the fat off those increasingly wobbly bits?
Yes, says Martin Gibala, associate professor of kinesiology at the prestigious McMaster University, who has co-authored a ground breaking and highly ingenious exercise appraisal study recently published in The Journal of Physiology (2006). He unambiguously reports that short and sharp bursts of very intense exercise can produce the same results as traditional endurance training.
According to the findings of the study, short bursts of “all out” physical exertion, separated by a few minutes of recovery, totalling approximately 20 minutes overall, provides the same benefits as that achieved by an elongated two hour session of moderate exercise.
“The most striking finding from our study was the remarkably similar improvements in muscle health and performance induced by two such diverse training strategies,” says Dr Martin Gibala.
Moreover, “Our study confirms that interval-based exercise is indeed a very time-efficient training strategy,” he adds.
For those that would seek to avoid regular exercise on the arguably spurious grounds of boredom or lack of time, the short and sharp exercise protocol, as outlined in the Gibala et al (2006) study, seems to be an innovative and flexible solution.
Overall then, the lesson to be learned here for the more canny minded would seem to be that when it comes to burning off calories through exercise, less could offer more in respect of return on time investment. After all, it is not necessarily about how long you exercise, but rather how hard you do it, says Dr Gibala.
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