Shape up: Short blasts of exercise as good as hours of training, scientists find
Less really can be more when it comes to exercise, scientists have discovered.
The body can get as much benefit from a short but intensive bursts of exercise lasting ten minutes than it can from ten hours of moderate training.
The technique not only takes less time but also involves much less physical effort.
Researchers believe their findings "blow away" the belief that staying in shape is a time-consuming affair.
The claim was made after a study into the benefits of "high intensity interval training", known as HIT, by McMaster University, Ontario, Canada.
The technique involves running or cycling at almost maximum effort for a minute and then resting for a minute before repeating the process around 10 times.
HIT is "a time-efficient but safe alternative to traditional types of moderate long term exercise," they discovered.
In experiments, volunteers rode an exercise bike in stints lasting just 60 seconds while peddling hard enough to get close to their maximum heart rate.
Tests afterwards showed that their muscles had improved as much as if they had been involved in endurance training.
Professor Martin Gibala, one of the researchers, said the study proved that it was "possible to get more by doing less".
His report, published in the Journal of Physiology, said it was not clear why HIT was so effective but it appeared to "stimulate many of the same cellular pathways" as traditional training regimes.
The findings also meant that a lack of free time was no longer an excuse for refusing to exercise, the professor said.