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Work out in no time McMaster's chair of kinesiology reveals new benefits to exercise

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By: Jennifer La Grassa

Public Health guidelines suggest 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of intense exercise per week. McMaster’s chair of kinesiology, Dr. Martin Gibala, has revealed that it only takes one minute of intense exercise to achieve the same long-term health benefits as a 50 minute one.

One of Dr. Gibala’s research interests is interval training, which involves alternating periods of high-intensity activity with periods of recovery. Over a three month span, Dr. Gibala compared the data he received from two groups of individuals. Both groups participated in three cycling sessions a week, with one group exercising for 10 minutes and the other exercising for 50 minutes. Those who cycled for 10 minutes had three 20 second periods (one minute) of intense exercise interspersed throughout their session, with recovery periods that consisted of low-intensity cycling. Those who cycled for 50 minutes had to do so at a moderate level of intensity.

At the end of the three month study, Dr. Gibala found that those who had only exercised for 10 minutes reaped the same health benefits as those who had done 50 minutes. These health benefits included an increase in insulin sensitivity, as well as strengthening of one’s respiratory and muscular fitness. Both groups had also increased their level of fitness by about 20%.

This research is beneficial for those whose fitness regime is restricted by lack of time or endurance. For those who want to work out, but lack the stamina to last longer than 20 minutes, interval training will assist in building up your endurance. You’ll soon find that your body will be able to easily complete those 10 minutes, after which you can begin to push yourself for longer periods of time.

“Brief bouts of intense exercise can be very effective to promote health and fitness. Interval training can be applied to many different forms of exercise and it does not require specialized equipment. Repeatedly climbing a few flights of stairs is a great practical example,” Dr. Gibala noted.

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