Gym Owner Monthly

Short Workouts For Strength /Health Heart And Mood…Want to transform your health? Quick, vigorous workouts work better than long, slow ones.

hen it comes to health gains, it matters more how much effort you put in and how breathless you become while working out than how long you spend doing it. That, at least, is the message from researchers at the universities of Cambridge and Leicester who last week published findings in the European Heart Journal that proved exercise intensity trumps duration when it comes to protecting the heart.
Using data on more than 88,000 middle-aged adults — all participants in the UK Biobank — who wore fitness trackers to monitor their activity for a week, the researchers totted up the amount of vigorous activity, such as running and strenuous cycling, they did, compared with the minutes of moderate exercise completed, such as walking. They then tallied this information with the number of heart attacks, strokes and cases of heart disease experienced by the participants over the next seven years.
Any form of regular exercise had a protective effect on the heart, but the more vigorous, the better, says Tom Yates, professor of physical activity, sedentary behaviour and health at the University of Leicester and a senior author on the paper. “We found that heart disease rates were 14 per cent lower among people who did one fifth of their total activity at a moderate to vigorous intensity compared with people who managed half that amount of intense physical effort each week,” Yates says. In people who did a lot of exercise each week but never really broke a sweat, there was little improvement in rates of heart disease. Conversely, in those who increased the amount of time spent doing vigorous exercise by 20 per cent, the disease risk fell by 23 per cent.

The good news is that benefits come with relatively small increases in effort. “Our message is that you are much better off walking briskly at a pace of at least 100 steps per minute for seven minutes than you are walking slowly for 15 minutes,” Yates says. “If you are time-strapped, then make sure the activity you do entails physical effort and you can cut the duration.” Raising intensity, he says, will improve health and fitness across the board. “We use the example of walking because it is something that most people can easily fit in to their lifestyle. But whether you are running, cycling or doing other forms of exercise, the harder you work, the greater the return.” Here are some fast fitness options:

Three seconds

Activity: Biceps curl
Gains: Improved arm muscle strength
Even if resistance training feels like a chore, you might be convinced to stick with it if you need to spend only three seconds a day lifting weights. For a recent trial, Professor Ken Kazunori Nosaka, director of exercise and sports science at Edith Cowan University in Australia, asked reluctant exercisers to perform a very brief biceps curl exercise with heavy weights — the maximum they could each lift — on Mondays to Fridays for four weeks.

One group was asked to perform an “eccentric” lift of the weight, meaning they lowered it down from the shoulder to their thigh (while standing) so that the elbow joint was forcibly extended; a second group did a “concentric” version of the exercise, which involved doing the opposite movement, ie slowly lifting the weight upwards from the front of the thigh; and an “isometric” group held the weight in place at the mid-point between shoulder and horizontal. A control group did nothing. In total the weights groups completed 20 sessions (a monthly total of 60 seconds; the experiment was on one arm only) and all saw improvements in arm strength.
Most effective was the eccentric biceps curl, which resulted in arm muscles 11.5 per cent stronger than at the start (the others achieved strength gains of 6 to 7 per cent). Nosaka says his research shows “that a very small amount of exercise stimulus — even 60 seconds in four weeks — can increase muscle strength” and that you don’t need to spend hours in a gym to see improvements.

20 seconds

Activity: Stair climbing
Gains: Cardio fitness and leg power
Who needs a gym? Brisk walking or running up a flight of stairs for 20 seconds (followed by a walk back down) three times a day — a daily total of 60 seconds intense exercise — can produce significant fitness gains, according to exercise scientists at McMaster University in Canada. Six weeks of doing this and no other exercise daily saw participants in the study working their heart and lungs enough to produce 5 per cent improvement in aerobic fitness.