Getting healthy isn t always easy. Time restrictions and a lack of motivation often prevent Americans from being as fit as they could be. In fact, according to Arnt Erik Tjonna, from the K.G. Jebsen Center for Exercise in Medicine (JCEM), only about 15 to 30 percent of Americans exercise at the suggested rate of 30 minutes a day, at least five times a week. However, new studies suggest that there may be some short cuts to health depending on what you want to accomplish.
Researchers at K.G. Jebsen Center in Trondheim, Norway found that short but intense workouts provide health benefits. Researchers monitored two groups of overweight men (those with a BMI between 25-30 kg/m20) exercising for either 19 minutes or 40 minutes three times a week over a ten week span.
In both groups, levels of oxygen uptake (VO2max) a measure of cardiovascular fitness increased 13 to 15 percent. Both groups also saw a reduction in systolic blood pressure and fasting glucose levels. However, only the group that exercised for 40 minutes daily saw reductions in body fat or cholesterol levels, and it is important to note that health benefits for a short workout applied only when individuals exercised at a heart rate of 90 percent of maximum.
On a related note, The New York Times compared the health benefits of walking and running in Gretchen Reynold s Health column, Turtle or Hare? It depends, which ran in the Science section today. What did they find? Walking can hold its own against running depending on what your fitness goals are.
Although running was found to be better than walking for keeping a trim waistline even with similar rates of calorie burn, walkers were actually found to have greater reductions in heart disease risk factors, as compared to runners. And both groups showed reduced rates of high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol profiles, diabetes and heart disease according to a study published last month in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.
Due to the American public s apparent aversion toward the recommended amount of exercise, any type of workout is beneficial for public health, whether it be walking regularly or short and intense activity. We suggest striving to get in the recommended amount of exercise to keep yourself healthy but remember that something is better than nothing!