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Monday, January 13, 2014

Taking the stairs and getting off the bus early: the easy weight loss tactic is more effective than long infrequent workout sessions - study shows

You might be under the impression that losing weight requires you to spend hours slogging away in the gym. But according to scientists of the University of Utah, just one extra minute of brisk activity every day can help burn off unwanted pounds.

Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (a research program that uses interviews and physical exams to track the health of a diverse selection of American adults and children), scholars showed that each daily minute spent in higher-intensity short bouts counts if you're willing to control your weight. Although fitness experts and health officials recommend a minimum of 10 minutes each day of intense exercise, the scientists found that every daily minute exercise can contribute to the reduction of obesity and be more effective in the long-term. This can be done by taking the stairs, parking further away from shopping stores, running for the bus (or getting off early) or walking to the grocery store.

"What we learned is that for preventing weight gain, the intensity of the activity matters more than duration," said lead researcher Jessie X. Fan. "This new understanding is important because fewer than 5% of American adults today achieve the recommended level of physical activity in a week according to the current physical activity guidelines. Knowing that even short bouts of brisk activity can add up to a positive effect is an encouraging message for promoting better health."

Data was collected from more than 4,000 study participants, who sported accelerometers to observe their physical efforts each day and it showed the results of how intense the workout regiment was.

Four categories were created: higher-intensity bouts (greater than 10 minutes exertion at greater than 2,020 counts per minutes, or CPM), higher-intensity short bouts (less than 10 minutes at greater than 2,020 CPM), lower-intensity long bouts (greater than 10 minutes and less than 2,019 CPM), and lower-intensity short bouts (less than 10 minutes and less than 2,019 CPM).
The study used body mass index, BMI, to measure weight status. A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered normal weight, whereas a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is overweight; and over 30 is obese.
Results show that for women, each daily minute spent in higher-intensity short bouts was related to a decrease of .07 BMI. That is, each such minute offset the calorie equivalent of .41 pounds. This means that when comparing two women each 5-feet-5-inches tall, the woman who regularly adds a minute of brisk activity to her day will weigh nearly a half-pound less.
Results were similar for men. Importantly for both, each daily minute of higher-intensity activity lowered the odds of obesity — 5% for women, and 2% for men. Multiply that by 10, or 30, or 150, and you’ve got some real results – all achieved by teeny tiny bouts of high-intensity activity.
"High intensity," Fan says, essentially means moving with a little pep, enough to get your heart rate going: it's not sprinting or racewalking, for example, but it's not ambling down the sidewalk, either. "I think it’s easier for people to process that message," Fan says. "Otherwise, if they don’t have a block of time they might be discouraged, and they don’t do anything."
The scientists claimed that although these short bursts of exercise may not count towards fulfilling the official guidelines, they were still likely to improve people’s overall health.
The results of the study were published in the American Journal of Health Promotion.

In a separate study published last year, an academic at Aberdeen University suggested that short, sharp bursts of exercise were better at warding off heart disease than longer, less strenuous sessions. That is because they helped speed up the rate at which fat left the blood. Fat lingering in the blood is known to trigger the first in a series of steps that can lead to clogging of the arteries and heart disease. The study found that walking cut fat levels by 11%, compared with not doing any exercise. But short bursts of sprints on a bike cut it by 33% – the sort of effect expected from a 90-minute run. Dr Stuart Gray, lead author of the study, said "Although moderate intensity, longer sessions of exercise can help protect the body against cardiovascular disease, the findings of our study showed that high-intensity shorter intervals of exercise might be a more effective method to improve health and reduce the time commitment to exercise. This is highly important as time is often cited as the main barrier to taking part in exercise".

Sources: http://medicalxpress.com/ , http://www.upi.com/Health_Newshttp://www.today.com/health/, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/, http://www.medicaldaily.com/