Scientists have suggested shorter bursts of exercise can be more effective than long gym sessions.
You might be under the impression that losing weight requires you to spend hours slogging away in the gym.
But according to scientists, just one extra minute of brisk activity every day can help burn off unwanted pounds.
Researchers monitored the activity of 4,500 adults, and discovered that how often you exercise your heart and lungs matters more than the duration of the workout.
They found that several short bursts of exertion had the same effect as longer, but less frequent spells of exercise.
Those short bursts could include taking the stairs instead of the lift, parking further away from the shops and walking, or getting off the bus one stop early.
Lead researcher Dr Jessie Fan, from the University of Utah, said: ‘What we learned is that for preventing weight gain, the intensity of the activity matters more than duration.
‘Knowing that even short bouts of brisk activity can add up to a positive effect is really an encouraging message for promoting better health.’ In the study, volunteers wore accelerometers – devices which can accurately measure movement and activity.
Participants also had their body mass index (BMI) recorded. This measures weight in relation to height.
Researchers found that, for women, every minute spent in higher-intensity short bouts of activity each day was associated with a BMI reduction of 0.07.
The results showed that one minute of brisk activity each day offset the calorie equivalent of 0.41lb in weight.
The scientists explained that this means if a 5ft 5in woman regularly took the stairs at work, she would weigh nearly half a pound less than a woman of the same height who took the lift. The results were similar for men.
Each daily minute of higher-intensity activity lowered the likelihood of being obese by 2 per cent for men and 5 per cent for women.
But the study found that, on average, the women who were having their movements monitored were less physically active than the men.
The report, which was published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, said: ‘Taking the stairs, walking to the store or between errands are choices that can add up and can end up making a positive health difference.
‘The message is: a little more effort can have an important health payback.’ Many British adults fail to reach the NHS guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week, in bouts of ten minutes or more.
And most adults in the study who had been attached to the accelerometers did not meet exercise recommendations.
But once short bouts of activity were taken into account, men managed to exceed the guidelines, while women came close to meeting them.
The scientists claimed that although these short bursts of exercise may not count towards fulfilling the official guidelines, they were still likely to improve people’s overall health.
Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘This supports what we know about exercise and weight loss.
Adults should be doing exercise every week to keep a healthy weight and ward off life-threatening conditions such as coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes.’
In a separate study published last year, an academic at Aberdeen University suggested that short, sharp bursts of exercise were better at warding off heart disease than longer, less strenuous sessions.
That is because they helped speed up the rate at which fat left the blood. Fat lingering in the blood is known to trigger the first in a series of steps that can lead to clogging of the arteries and heart disease.
The study found that walking cut fat levels by 11 per cent, compared with not doing any exercise. But short bursts of sprints on a bike cut it by 33 per cent – the sort of effect expected from a 90-minute run.
SOURCE: Daily Mail
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