How much do you have to exercise to improve your endurance and aerobic fitness?
A lot of people don’t exercise because they think they have to spend a lot of time doing it every week, and that does not appeal to them. Let’s see what research has found.
Several years ago research was conducted on what was called high intensity short interval training. Since the start of that, a lot of research has been published on that topic, experimenting with different durations of exercise.
The original research started using a stationary bike doing 30 seconds intervals, peddling as hard as possible, then resting for up to 4 minutes. This was then repeated 4 to 6 times.
This regime was very effective documenting that just 2 minutes of actual exercise time produced the same results as an hour of regular intensity aerobic exercise.
So how little can you exercise and still improve your performance? Is 30 seconds interval as low as you can go?
The following research tested six sub elite triathletes comparing them with 6 endurance-trained sub elite athletes maintaining their normal training routine .(Jakeman J, et.al., 2012).
These athletes were already in good shape. It’s harder to improve the performance at that level, compared to starting with people out of shape.
6 of the participants did 10, 6 seconds sprints on a stationary bike with a resting period of 1 minute in between, 3 times a week for 2 weeks. The resistance on the bike was set to 7.5% of the body weight.
Two weeks of the high intensity short interval training resulted in a 10% decrease in a 10-km time trial.
The time taken to reach the onset of blood lactate accumulation, defined as the point where blood lactate reaches 4 mmol·L⁻¹) was significantly increased. This is another way of measuring improved aerobic fitness.
The actual exercise time was only 1 minute 3 times a week.
If you want to improve cardiovascular fitness, but want to spend as little time as possible exercising, this is the way to do it.
You need a stationary bike to implement this protocol, but if you have that at home, you don’t necessarily even have to do the 10 sprints at one time. You can split them up throughout the day depending on what’s most convenient for you.
Other studies has documented that it is more beneficial to be active several times a day compared to exercising longer only once a day.
Lack of time is no longer a valid reason not to exercise. Most people would most likely have 3 minutes a week to spend on exercise considering the benefits.
Jakeman J, Adamson S, Babraj J.Extremely short duration high-intensity training substantially improves endurance performance in triathletes. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2012 Oct;37(5):976-81.
Research has shown that sitting for a long time can be bad, but you don’t have to be active for very long to reap huge benefits.
The program Exercise for Maximum Benefits incorporates the latest research to be sure that you really get maximum benefits.