Monday, December 5, 2011

Minimal Fitness 2

I mentioned this study a few days ago, but I was away from my computer so couldn't write much.

The study is here.

Towards the minimal amount of exercise for improving metabolic health: beneficial effects of reduced-exertion high-intensity interval training.

It was done here in Edinburgh at Heriot-Watt University.  The protocol that was tested was of 3 easy 10 minute cycling sessions with a one or two hard 10 second sprints thrown in.  The result was an improvement in key health markers - insulin sensitivity and VO2 peak.

The researchers see this as a great encouragement -  big benefits can come from relatively modest investments in time:

In conclusion, in this study we have shown that a very brief and feasible exercise intervention is associated with improvements in metabolic health and aerobic capacity. Our findings suggest that this REHIT protocol may offer a genuinely time-efficient alternative to HIT and conven- tional cardiorespiratory exercise training for improving risk factors of T2D.
 I also think that this is an exciting study with some very exciting implications.  All this of course chimes with the work of Tabata, Termblay and Gibala over recent years.  Just a few bullets:

  • Again it is about intensity -  those hard 10 second efforts do the job.
  • This does not take long -  there should be no excuse that you have no time to exercise.

Alex at the superb Sweat Science blog has already looked at this research and commented that this will not really get people off the couch and onto the exercise bike.  He is probably right.

The way in which I view this is obviously different from the way in which a non exercising unfit person would consider the research.  To me it is a motivation and an encouragement - if I am taking a short walk I discover that a short sprint up some stairs will have a good impact - it will make me more insulin sensitive for example. 

I want to use things like this to get people to do some intense movement.  Not much, but something challenging.

Of course, at the back of this as an HIT enthusiast, I always wonder whether all the benefits could also come from appropriate resistance training......

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