Thursday, January 28, 2016

Small Periods of Exercise Can Be Beneficial

With overweight and obesity continuing to be worldwide problems, measures to deal with the problems continue to garner an increasing amount of attention. And because of recent research results, some of the guidelines that health care professionals commonly use to advise overweight individuals may receive modification. For example, short periods of exercise may be beneficial to our health. Indeed, short periods of high intensity (HIT) exercise may be as healthy as long periods of exercise. And short periods of moderate intensity exercise that interrupt sedentary activity can also have beneficial effects.

Since we are using the term "intensity," let's get some idea of how "intensity" is measured when it comes to exercise. There are different ways of measuring exercise intensity. One common method looks at the heart rate during exercise. The measurement is called the percentage of maximum heart rate or %-MHR. And when one engages in highly intense activity, the person's %-MHR is high.
The Weight Watchers Website defines three exercise intensity exercise levels.  "Low, moderate and high levels of exercise intensity, as measured by heart rate, are defined as follows: Low (or Light) is about 40-54% MHR. Moderate is 55-69% MHR, and High (or Vigorous) is equal to or greater than 70% MHR."

Concerning HIT, studies have shown that HIT can be as effective as longer bouts of exercise, while being more efficient. The investigators concluded that 'Doing 10 one-minute sprints on a standard stationary bike with about one minute of rest in between, three times a week, works as well in improving muscle as many hours of conventional long-term biking.'

And concerning light intensity exercise as a positive interrupter of sedentary activity, one study indicated that "The theory that interrupting bouts of sedentary behavior with light-intensity activity might help control adiposity and postprandial glycemia was supported by the evidence."

More research is, of course, needed to determine why short bouts of exercise appear to be helpful to health. Still, advocating short periods of exercise might be something a health care provider might want to consider for his or her patients, at some time in the future.



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