The Six Minute a Week Workout?
Staying in shape doesn't require long hard hours on the trail or at the rink.
Six minutes a week of intense exercise can be as effective as an hour a day of moderate activity, according to a study published in the June edition of the Journal of Applied Physiology.
How can this be?
The study found that repeated bouts of high intensity sprint-type exercise produce profound changes in skeletal muscle and endurance capacity, similar to those seen in traditional endurance training.
The study, conducted at McMaster University, involved 16 subjects.
Eight of them participated in a sprint interval training program. Three times a week, they performed four to seven 30-second bursts of "all out" cycling, followed by four minutes of recovery.
The other eight did no exercise.
After two weeks, researchers found that the endurance capacity (length of time before exhaustion) in the sprint group had increased from 26 minutes to 51 minutes on average.
They also found a significant increase in the amount of citrate synthase in the muscles of the sprint group. Citrate synthase is an enzyme that is indicative of the tissue's ability to use oxygen.
Not surprisingly, there was no change in the control group.
"Sprint training may offer an option for individuals who cite 'lack of time' as a major impediment to fitness and conditioning," said McMaster's kinesiologist Martin Gibala, one of the authors of the study.
"This type of training is very demanding and requires a high level of motivation, however less frequent, higher intensity exercise can indeed lead to improvements in health and fitness."
Copyright © 2006 by Robert Burnson