Wednesday, February 8, 2017

No Time to Exercise - Short Bursts of Activity Work Too

We hear it all the time when it comes to getting exercise: "Just get moving," or "take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator," but do those short bursts of energy really make a difference in our overall fitness levels? For those who are used to seeing friends and colleagues going to the gym for hours on end or running long distances, a shorter time for exercise done at home (or at work) may seem too good to be true. But it's not, say many exercise gurus, including the author of the book One-Minute Workout and a new study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

According to a press release issued today:

"Interval training offers a convenient way to fit exercise into your life, rather than having to structure your life around exercise," says Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster and lead author on the study. "Stair climbing is a form of exercise anyone can do in their own home, after work or during the lunch hour," says "This research takes interval training out of the lab and makes it accessible to everyone."

The researchers performed a small 6-week study (31women) that evaluated two protocols. The women were sedentary before beginning the study. Sessions took place three times a week and took about 30 minutes total over the course of a week, 10 minutes per session for warm up, cool down, and recovery.

© Dirima | - Sporty woman running and climbing stairs
The first experiment had subjects performing three 20-second sessions of continuous stair climbing at maximum ability ("all-out") compared with subjects who exercised with the same intensity but on exercise bikes. In the second experiment, the participants vigorously climbed up and down one single flight of stairs for 60 seconds. According to the press release, both protocols increased the participants' cardiorespiratory fitness.  (Note: I was unable to find the study online so I can't be more specific with these findings). Considering how tiring it can be to climb stairs, this doesn't seem to be a stretch.

But not everyone has stairs at home, so if doing stairs isn't your thing, there are other options that may prove equally effective. A new iBook called How to Watch TV and Get Fit, 3 Minutes at a Time, by Debbie Rahman, presents you with a 12-week program that works on helping your cardio, strength, and balance. The book's website has a few sample 3 minute exercise videos (Disclosure: I recently met the art director of this project). Again, this approach may seem too good to be true, but if you're trying to squeeze some exercise into your life but something more structured isn't going to work, a program like this could be the answer.

So whichever approach you use, it's good to know that if you don't have the time or the desire to commit to joining a gym or taking part in lengthy time consuming exercise programs, there is still hope.