Good things come in small packages, as the saying goes. Turns out it’s also true when it comes to short bursts of intense exercise, new research shows.
The study, by Colorado sports scientists, found exercisers can burn as many as 200 extra calories in as little as 2.5 minutes of concentrated effort a day — as long as they intersperse longer periods of easy recovery in a practice known as “sprint interval training.” The finding could make exercise more manageable for time-pressed fitness buffs by cramming intense efforts into as little as 25 minutes.SPECIAL: These 4 Things Happen Right Before a Heart Attack — Read More.
"Research shows that many people start an exercise program but just can't keep it up," said researcher Kyle Sevits, a Colorado State University who helped conduct the study, presented at a sports science conference in Colorado this week. "The biggest factor people quote is that they don't have the time to fit in exercise. We hope if exercise can be fit into a smaller period of time, then they may give exercise a go and stick with it."
For the study, researchers from Colorado State and the University of Colorado compared a group of healthy volunteers' energy expenditures on two different days. On one of those days, participants performed a sprint interval workout that involved pedaling as fast as possible on a stationary bicycle set at a high resistance for five 30-second periods, each separated by four-minute periods of recovery in which they pedaled slowly with very little resistance.
The results showed the volunteers burned an average of an extra 200 calories on the sprint interval workout day, despite spending a total of just 2.5 minutes engaged in hard exercise.
"Burning an extra 200 calories from these exercises a couple of times a week can help keep away that pound or two that many Americans gain each year," Sevits said.
He also noted that few people hit the U.S. government's recommendations of 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. SPECIAL: These 4 Things Happen Right Before a Heart Attack — Read More.