Brett Smith for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Although we all need it–maintaining a regular exercise regimen can be difficult with the demands of everyday life pulling at us from every direction.
However, some exercise is better than none at all and a new study from a group of Colorado researchers supports that notion by demonstrating a few short bursts of intense exercise can burn to up 200 more calories throughout the day.
The researchers, from the University of Colorado and Colorado State University, will present their findings in a presentation entitled, “A Single Session of Sprint Interval Training Increases Total Daily Energy Expenditure,” at The Integrative Biology of Exercise VI meeting this week in Westminster, CO.
“Research shows that many people start an exercise program but just can’t keep it up,” said the study lead author Kyle Sevits of CSU. “The biggest factor people quote is that they don’t have the time to fit in exercise. We hope if exercise can be fit into a smaller period of time, then they may give exercise a go and stick with it.”
Previous studies have shown that an exercise program known as sprint interval training can improve overall fitness and athletic performance. The team decided to investigate how this exercise regimen affects caloric expenditure, a factor that motivates many people to exercise.
In their study, Sevits and colleagues enlisted five healthy male volunteers between the ages of 25 and 31 years old. The participants began the study by undergoing an exercise stress test to make sure they were fit enough to participate in the sprint training. The researchers also recorded the participants´ body compositions and metabolic rates while at rest.
After they were deemed healthy enough to participate, the volunteers ate a specific diet over three days that was designed to meet their metabolic needs and establish an “energy balance,” with just enough calories for their bodies, Sevits explained.
The men then checked into hospital-type rooms at the University of Colorado research facility that were outfitted with a ventilation system designed to analyze oxygen, carbon dioxide and water content. The system allowed researchers to determine how many calories were burned by each volunteer.
For two days, each volunteer continued to eat the balanced diet. They spent the majority of their time doing sedentary activities, but on one of the days, they engaged in the sprint interval workout.
During the workout, each participant would pedal as fast as possible on a stationary bicycle on a high-resistance setting for five 30-second periods, separated by four-minute recovery periods in which they pedaled slowly at a low-resistance setting. The researchers also coached the volunteers over an intercom system during their sprints so that they would give maximum effort.
The ventilation analysis showed that the participants burned an extra 200 calories on the day of their 2.5-minute sprint workout. Researchers were unsure of the mechanism behind the burn, but noted that the results were promising for people trying to squeeze a few minutes of exercise into their schedule.
“Burning an extra 200 calories from these exercises a couple of times a week can help keep away that pound or two that many Americans gain each year,” Sevits noted.
The American government currently recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week.