As you jog on the treadmill, and watch each minute painstakingly crawl by, you likely wonder just how much exercise does it really take to get fit-how many minutes, days, weeks, or years. Or, on the other hand, how little exercise does it take?
Some welcomed news is here for those that wonder the latter. New evidence supports the idea that we need a lot less exercise than we think-so long as we are willing to work a bit harder.
Scientists at McMaster University in Canada recently studied groups of healthy yet sedentary, middle-aged men and women, and groups of those diagnosed with cardiovascular disease. They tested the groups’ heart rates as they did short bursts of strenuous peddling (intervals) on stationary bikes. The researchers wanted to find out whether intervals can provide the same fitness benefits as longer, moderate endurance exercise, which frankly, most Americans don’t do enough of.
The intervals (one minute of strenuous exercise, working at about 90 percent of the person’s maximum heart rate followed by one minute of easy recovery) that the groups followed for several weeks, gained them significant improvements in their health and fitness levels. Basically, the scientist found that a single bout of the one-minute hard, one-minute easy training, repeated 10 times, for a total of 20 minutes, gave the same benefits of much longer “normal” exercise time. Good news for those short on time, but big on fitness.
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