Researcher Study Just How Little Exercise You Need. Awesome.

Now here’s some researchers an exercise-averse person like me has gotta love.

“Millions of Americans don’t engage in much exercise, if they complete any at all and asked why, a majority of respondents, in survey after survey, say, ‘I don’t have time.’ Now Gretchen Reynolds reports that instead of wondering justhow much exercise people really need in order to gain health and fitness, a group of scientists in Canada are turning that issue on its head and asking, how little exercise do we need to maintain fitness and the answer appears to be, a lot less than most of us think — provided we’re willing to work a bit. Most people have heard of intervals, or repeated, short, sharp bursts of strenuous activity, interspersed with rest periods. Almost all competitive athletes strategically employ a session or two of interval training every week to improve their speed and endurance. Researchers have developed a version of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) that involves one minute of strenuous effort, at about 90 percent of a person’s maximum heart rate (which most of us can estimate, very roughly, by subtracting our age from 220), followed by one minute of easy recovery. The effort and recovery are repeated 10 times, for a total of 20 minutes and the interval training is performed twice a week. Despite the small time commitment of this modified HIIT program, after several weeks of practicing it, both the unfit volunteers and the cardiac patients showed significant improvements in their health and fitness. ‘A growing body of evidence demonstrates that high-intensity interval training 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.'”

I lifted the above from Slashdot, a respected site that has been around forever. It’s well worth visiting the actual post as the commenters typically rise above the average Neanderthal comment and usually add something of value to the post subject.

A New York Times blog posting you can find here goes into more detail about the research, where cardiac patients(!) were asked to exercise ‘bat-shit crazy’ (technical term) for 1 minute then rest for 1 minute – and repeat 10 times. They did this twice a week. The researchers were amazed at just how much good this did them – and the patients basically said: yeah, it sucks, but at least it doesn’t last all that long.

What surprises me is that the researchers didn’t end up killing a bunch of cardiac patients.

This probably isn’t news to a number of readers – the Paleo and Primal diet folks have said for years that this sort of punctuated exercise is probably what Grok (their name for the archetype caveman they strive to emulate) did – and that’s what we were designed for.

Unfortunately, I am still sitting on my ass instead of doing it. I bought an interval training timer a while back – it’s somewhere. Like the guy who watches Food Network while eating TV dinners, or home repair shows while his own home repairs are neglected, I am still a voyeur of exercise – not a participant.

Luckily, I am expert in giving myself excuses – I’ll leave you mine just in case you need some for yourself:

  • “Well, I should really consult with my doctor first – you should consult your physician before any exercise program – right?”
  •  “What do doctors know? I might drop dead anyway !” (to use after visiting the doctor)
  • “Spring is around the corner – I’ll start it then.”
  • “I have to find my interval timer I bought. I’ll have to look for that later.”
  • “I don’t have any exercise clothes that fit me – I’ll have to buy some first.”
  • “I always feel like an idiot when I exercise.”

Let me know if you have any good excuses – I’ll add them to my collection.

My favorite one – a quote from somebody or other – that I always pull out if someone asks me if I exercise is this:

Whenever I get the urge to exercise I lie down until the feeling passes.


5 thoughts on “Researcher Study Just How Little Exercise You Need. Awesome.

  1. I have a good excuse – I’m disabled (although I can do sit down exercises). I’m also exercise-adverse. I figure as long as I’m losing weight without exercising, I’m doing OK.

    1. Your excuse certainly beats *my* excuse!

      Seriously though, exercise is something I’d like to do and in the past, when I was below a certain weight, I was drawn to it.

      I’ll get to it someday – or maybe tomorrow – another reader sent me an email and pulled a Jillian Michael on me. Maybe I’ll listen 😉

  2. You don’t actually need a special timer, minute doesn’t last long, you can count in your head(one, two…90) Besides, it is not convenient to watch your timer when you at your max effort.

  3. I won’t pull a Jillian Michaels on you, but I will say that the human body is designed to MOVE, not be sedentary. Believe you me, if I didn’t have to, I’d be perfectly content to park it on my “gelatinous maximus” and watch movies all the live-long day. But, I plan to be old someday, and I’d like to retain as much mobility as possible. So, I make sure to get my exercise in on basically a daily basis. I have a membership to a gym, passes to exercise classes, a pool pass, a yoga mat, a treadmill, awesome parks and trails in my neighborhood, a weight gym in my garage, and a bike, so if I don’t feel like doing a particular workout one day, I have many options to do something else. I’ve made it pretty impossible to claim that there’s nothing I enjoy doing available at any given moment. It’s taken probably 15 years, but I’ve finally made it where I’m basically constantly tripping over an opportunity to exercise, and since it’s there, I might as well do it.

    Just gotta find what works for you, bud, and then stick with it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.