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Only 10 Minutes? The Fitness Claim That Delivers

Posted by Jerry De Luca on Sunday, December 22, 2013

fitness, exercise

A deluge of fitness research in recent years has been coming to the inescapable conclusion that it shouldn’t take a great deal of time to get physically fit. The benefits of brief high intensity interval training have been shown time and again to be greater than longer steady state aerobic training. For busy people without much time for workouts, several short bursts of intense sprints (running or cycling), each followed by brief respites, are more effective than the conventional wisdom of longer is better.

There are many examples and every regimen should be tailored to the individual, but a typical session would be as follows: After a brief warm-up, run on a treadmill or outdoors for 60 seconds as fast as you can, as if your life depended on it, then stop and rest for 60 seconds. Do each five times. Amazingly, these 10 minutes of intense activity and rest will give your body a better workout than 30 – 40 minutes of steady jogging.  

Below are 13 citations from medical journal abstracts of research done followed by two brief BBC videos on this subject.  

British Journal of Sports Medicine 
“Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) is a strong determinant of morbidity and mortality. In athletes and the general population, it is established that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is superior to moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) in improving CRF …. HIIT significantly increases CRF by almost double that of MICT in patients with lifestyle-induced chronic diseases.”  http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/early/2013/10/21/bjsports-2013-092576.abstract

Journal of Applied Physiology   
“Six sessions of high-intensity interval training (HIT) are sufficient to improve exercise capacity ….. These results suggest that increases in mitochondrial content following six HIT sessions may facilitate improvements in respiratory capacity and oxygen extraction, and ultimately are responsible for the improvements in maximal whole body exercise capacity and endurance performance in previously untrained individuals.”   

“Our aim was to examine the effects of seven high-intensity aerobic interval training (HIIT) sessions over 2 weeks on skeletal muscle fuel content, mitochondrial enzyme activities, fatty acid transport proteins, peak O2 consumption (V̇o2 peak), and whole body metabolic, hormonal, and cardiovascular responses to exercise ….. In summary, seven sessions of HIIT over 2 weeks induced marked increases in whole body and skeletal muscle capacity for fatty acid oxidation during exercise in moderately active women.” http://jap.physiology.org/content/102/4/1439

The Journal of Physiology
 “Exercise training is a clinically proven, cost-effective, primary intervention that delays and in many cases prevents the health burdens associated with many chronic diseases. However, the precise type and dose of exercise needed to accrue health benefits is a contentious issue with no clear consensus recommendations for the prevention of inactivity-related disorders and chronic diseases. A growing body of evidence demonstrates that high-intensity interval training (HIT) can serve as an effective alternate to traditional endurance-based training, inducing similar or even superior physiological adaptations in healthy individuals and diseased populations, at least when compared on a matched-work basis.  Such findings are important given that ‘lack of time’ remains the most commonly cited barrier to regular exercise participation. “

“Considerable evidence currently exists to support a role for low-volume HIT as a potent and time-efficient training method for inducing both central (cardiovascular) and peripheral (skeletal muscle) adaptations that are linked to improved health outcomes.”


European Journal of Applied Physiology
“These data suggest that both whole-body exercise training and HIT are effective in increasing inspiratory muscle strength with HIT offering a time-efficient alternative to ET in improving aerobic capacity and performance.”  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22194005

Oxford Journals: European Society of Cardiology
“The present study demonstrates that cardiovascular adaptations to training are intensity-dependent. A close correlation between VO2max, cardio-myocyte dimensions and contractile capacity suggests significantly higher benefit with high intensity, whereas endothelial function appears equivalent at moderate levels. Thus, exercise intensity emerges as an important variable in future preclinical and clinical investigations.”

Journal of Sports Medicine
“Several recent studies have suggested that compared with continuous moderate exercise (CME), high-intensity interval training (HIT) may result in a superior or equal improvement in fitness and cardiovascular health. HIT is comprised of brief periods of high-intensity exercise interposed with recovery periods at a lower intensity.

“Additionally, HIT has been shown to be safe and effective in patients with a range of cardiac and metabolic dysfunction. In conclusion, HIT appears to promote superior improvements in aerobic fitness and similar improvements in some cardio-metabolic risk factors in comparison to CME, when performed by healthy subjects or clinical patients for at least 8–12 weeks.” http://link.springer.com/article/10.2165/11630910-000000000-00000

Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport   
“Peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak) increases more after high intensity interval training compared to isocaloric moderate exercise in patients with coronary heart disease (CHD). We assessed the impact of exercise intensity during high intensity intervals on the increase in VO2peak.”

“Even within the high intensity training zone, exercise intensity was an important determinant for improving VO2peak in patients with coronary heart disease.”  http://www.jsams.org/article/S1440-2440%2813%2900153-9/abstract

Journal of Physiology   -   International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
“A 2008 study by Gibala et al. demonstrated 2.5 hours of sprint interval training produced similar biochemical muscle changes to 10.5 hours of endurance training and similar endurance performance benefits.”

 “High-intensity interval training has also been shown to improve athletic performance. For already well-trained athletes, improvements in performance become difficult to attain; increases in training volume may yield no improvements. Previous research would suggest that, for athletes who are already well-trained, improvements in endurance performance can be achieved through high-intensity interval training. A 2009 study by Driller and co-workers showed an 8.2 second improvement in 2000m rowing time following 4 weeks of HIIT in well-trained rowers. This equates to a significant 2% improvement after just 7 interval-training sessions.”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-intensity_interval_training

Journal of Obesity
“The effect of regular aerobic exercise on body fat is negligible; however, other forms of exercise may have a greater impact on body composition. For example, emerging research examining high-intensity intermittent exercise (HIIE) indicates that it may be more effective at reducing subcutaneous and abdominal body fat than other types of exercise. The mechanisms underlying the fat reduction induced by HIIE, however, are undetermined. Regular HIIE has been shown to significantly increase both aerobic and anaerobic fitness. HIIE also significantly lowers insulin resistance and results in a number of skeletal muscle adaptations that result in enhanced skeletal muscle fat oxidation and improved glucose tolerance.”  

BMC Endocrine Disorders Journal  
“The efficacy of a high intensity exercise protocol, involving only ~250 kcal of work each week, to substantially improve insulin action in young sedentary subjects is remarkable. This novel time-efficient training paradigm can be used as a strategy to reduce metabolic risk factors in young and middle aged sedentary populations who otherwise would not adhere to time consuming traditional aerobic exercise regimes.”   http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6823/9/3

American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine
l “High-intensity interval training (HIT) is characterized by intermittent periods of work and rest and may include work bouts lasting seconds to minutes. HIT has typically been applied to older, diseased, and at-risk populations using longer work intervals (2-4 minutes), whereas more recent definitions of HIT include work intervals of 30 to 60 seconds.”

l “Although the length of the work interval may need to be adjusted to fit the needs and capacity of the participant, HIT should be considered as an alternative to TET for older adults with the expectation that it requires less time to execute, yet promotes peripheral and perhaps central adaptations.”

l “Given the available data, HIT offers considerable benefits, particularly in light of the time savings.”

l “Additionally, HIT has been successfully used with older adults with cardiovascular disease and, when compared with TET, produces as good or better cardiorespiratory benefits. Moreover, HIT offers additional benefits, including increased lipolysis and enhanced insulin sensitivity.”

l “Whereas more study is required to validate the central influence of the very brief HIT protocol, it is hard to discount the efficacy of HIT, both in terms of inducing a host of desirable physiological phenotypes as well as from an efficiency standpoint.”

l “It is important to point out that "all out" HIT of less than 1 minute may be unrealistic for older deconditioned persons and those suffering from diseases. The effort required for the very brief work bouts may be beyond both the muscular and cardiovascular capacity of this population. Finally, considering the peripheral and perhaps central adaptation to HIT, older individuals should consider HIT as a viable alternative to TET.”   

             High Intensity Interval Training - BBC The One Show  

High Intensity Training - Horizon: The Truth About Exercise - BBC  (2 minutes 28 seconds)

Preliminary research has found that a person’s genetic make-up can influence the effectiveness of HIIT. For about 15% of the population, the benefits may be minimal. For an overview, see: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/242498.php

Additional details: 8 Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) 

How to Build Your Own Workout Routines – Advice from a Two-time Olympian  https://www.jenreviews.com/workout-routines/

Photo: spotonsoftware.com CC    

Jerry De Luca is a Christian freelance writer who loves perusing dozens of interesting and informative publications. When he finds any useful info he summarizes it, taking the main points, and creates a (hopefully) helpful blog post.


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