Turns out pounding the treadmill for hours is a bit pointless [Photo: Getty]
The all new healthy you begins today. So when 5.30 ticks round, you’ve promised you’ll drag your backside to the gym and put yourself through a gruelling 45 minute workout. No pain, no gain right? But if the very thought of spending the best part of an hour pounding the treadmill makes you want to pretend the dog ate your gym kit, we have some news that might just make your day. Because it turns out that working out for long periods may actually be kinda pointless.
A new study by McMaster University has revealed that just one teeny tiny minute of intense exercise has the same physiological effects as 45 minutes of mid-level sweating.
Researchers recruited 25 out-of-shape young men and measured their current aerobic fitness, muscular efficiency and insulin sensitivity. The guys were then divided into three groups. One group was asked to stick to their current, almost entirely sofa-bound, exercise routines.
The second set were put on traditional endurance regimes which consisted of a two-minute warm up on an exercise bike, followed by 45 minutes of moderate cycling, and finishing with a three-minute cool down.
And the final group took part in interval training. This third group had a two-minute bike session to warm up, before sprinting for 20 seconds, followed by peddling slowly for 120 seconds and then sprinting again for a further 20 seconds. They then repeated this for a total of 10 minutes – during which time, only one single minute was spent exercising vigorously.
After both the exercising groups had completed three sessions per week for 12 weeks, the results revealed that the group who had ridden for 27 hours all in all (that’s the second group ICYMI) had nearly identical results – in aerobic fitness, blood-sugar control and muscles – as the third group, who overall had cycled for six hours with just 36 minutes of that at an intense level.
Both groups’ endurance had increased by almost 20%, and they had made gains in muscle function and energy production.
We may be over simplifying things here, but doesn’t this basically mean a quick sprint to your local is effectively the same as running an entire marathon?
But before you sack off the gym entirely, the study authors do warn, that this kind of micro-interval training “requires a very high level of motivation and is clearly not suited to everyone.”
We can do motivated, particularly if it means we can claw back that 45 minute treadmill time. Pizza on the sofa anyone?
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