It’s difficult to make working out a priority when your schedule is already cram packed with activities and meetings and work. However, new findings about interval training are turning this into a poor excuse. Everyone – even the most preoccupied small business owner, mother of five, or full-time college student – has 2.5 minutes to spare every day.
Benefits of Interval Training
Interval training is all about providing benefits that improve overall health, such as:
- Increased glucose tolerance
- Increased insulin sensitivity
- Improved heart health, both in healthy individuals and those with heart disease
What hasn’t been thoroughly researched is whether interval training burns more calories than traditional exercises. The following study is early evidence that interval training helps you burn more calories in less time, thus helping you maintain a healthy weight and a smaller waistline.
Get Your Sweat On
A study performed by Kyle Sevits, a Colorado State University physiology graduate student, shows that even high-intensity segments lasting only 2.5 minutes are enough to boost fitness levels and shrink the waistline. Sevits’ team demonstrated this by giving it their all on an exercise bike for that meager 2.5 minutes. The results showed 220 calories burned.
Of course, to get the most from such a short amount of time exerting yourself, you need more than just a commercial break to do your workout. Sevits suggests dividing the 2.5 minutes into five 30-second intervals surrounded by four minutes of less exerting exercise, such as resistance-free pedaling if riding a bike. All in all, that’s still less than 25 minutes, which, by using this technique, burns more than a 30-minute session of moderate cycling.
The Interval Training Workout
Sevits recruited 10 healthy male participants averaging 25 years old for his study. The participants ate a strict diet based on their specific caloric needs for three days leading up to the study. Then, for two days, the participants stayed in rooms with equipment that allowed researchers to measure how many calories each participant burned during the study. The strict diet applied to these two study days as well.
The participants warmed up on stationary bikes for two minutes, then pedaled as fast and hard as they could for 30 seconds. Next came four minutes of low-resistance pedaling. Then, another half-minute, all-out pedaling session followed. In all, each participant completed five bursts of exertion totaling approximately 220 calories burned. These calories were burned primarily in the 2.5-minute span of intense physical exertion during the 25-minute exercise.
Interval training has the potential to help you shed pounds and shrink your waistline while making it possible to fit exercise into your busy schedule. However, everyone’s body is different. To burn the most calories, you really want to get moving, but you don’t want to injure yourself. Cycling is a great, low-impact exercise, but be careful if you choose running or another higher impact exercise for your interval training.
While it’s tempting to cram all 2.5 minutes into a single, high intensity workout, the rest periods are just as important for your body as the exertion. Feel free to do something productive during the recommended four-minute break, such as checking your email.
Sevits also cautions that people need to work their way into interval training. You need to build up endurance, confidence and a level you feel comfortable with on whatever machine you choose to do your training. Start by tossing a few high intensity sprints into your regular workout. Even if they’re not quite 30 seconds, you’ll still reap the benefits of pushing your body to the limit.
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