Short bursts of exercise better than long workouts

08:00 AEST Sun Sep 22 2013
Contrary to what you might have thought, just 30 minutes of exercise a day could help you lose more weight than daily hour-long sessions, according to Danish researchers.

Contrary to what you might have thought, just 30 minutes of exercise a day could help you lose more weight than daily hour-long sessions, according to Danish researchers.

They split a group of 60 moderately overweight Danish men into two groups and instructed them to exercise vigorously for either 30 minutes or an hour a day for 13 weeks.

By the end of the study, those who did half an hour a day lost 3.6kg compared with 2.7kg for those who exercised for an hour.

The researchers believe it's because those who scheduled less time for formal exercise included more incidental activity throughout their day, whereas those who blocked out an hour a day were more likely to put their feet up.

"The subjects in the test group that exercised the least talk about increased energy levels and a higher motivation for exercising and pursuing a healthy everyday life," said Associate Professor Astrid Jespersen from the Unviersity of Copenhagen.

"They take the stairs, take the dog for an extra walk or cycle to work. In contrast, the men who exercised for one hour a day, after training, felt exhausted, demotivated and less open to making a healthy change."

Australian exercise guidelines suggest people aim for 150 minutes of exercise a week, which is roughly 30 minute sessions on five days.

Professor David Dunstan, head of physical activity at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, told ninemsn this study proves that we all need to increase our movement throughout the day.

"I'm encouraging people to consider movement from the time they wake up until they go to bed," he said.

"It's great to get 30 minutes of exercise in the morning, but to sit on our backsides for the remainder of the day is not beneficial. Try to think about reducing sitting time throughout the day. We need to think of movement as an opportunity not an inconvenience."

Dr Nathan Johnson, from the Sydney University faculty of health sciences, told ninemsn that you don't need to exercise in solid chunks.

"Do at least 10 minute blocks and accumulate it throughout the week. For most people a brisk walk is enough. It doesn't have to be structured," he said.

Dr Johnson also said that it's a better idea for people to focus on reducing abdominal fat, than worrying about purely what's on the scales.

"If you can lose fat from the abdomen, your risk of disease improves, even if you don't change on the scales," he said.

"Weight loss is a good goal, but waistline reduction shows you're losing fat from the right areas."

The study was published in the Scandinavian Journal of Public Health.

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