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Short bursts of exercise as beneficial for health as longer workouts, study finds

Finding the time for long workouts isn’t always feasible

Sabrina Barr
Friday 23 March 2018 12:36 GMT

Trying to fit exercise into a busy weekly schedule is far easier said than done.

Sometimes there just isn’t any time to go to the gym for an intense workout or head out on a lengthy jog around the neighbourhood.

A new study has revealed that doing short bursts of exercise can be just as beneficial as longer workouts on your overall health.

As it stands, the current health guidelines as stated by the NHS dictate that adults aged between 19 and 64 years old should do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, in addition to strength exercises.

It recommends splitting the 150 minutes of weekly physical activity into 30-minute segments.

However, research conducted by William E. Kraus, M.D., of the Duke University School of Medicine and investigators from the National Cancer Institute debunks the notion that workouts have to be long in duration in order to be effective.

“For about 30 years, guidelines have suggested that moderate-to-vigorous activity could provide health benefits, but only if you sustained the activity for 10 minutes or more,” Kraus said.

“That flies in the face of public health recommendations, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and parking farther from your destination.

“Those don’t take 10 minutes, so why were they recommended?”

Kraus and his team of researchers assessed 4,840 people aged 40 and older with data obtained from individuals who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2003 and 2006.

By 2011, 700 of the participants had passed away.

The study concluded that a person’s risk of developing disease or dying prematurely can be greatly reduced with an increased amount of daily exercise.

However, this daily exertion can be split into smaller durations of moderate exercise and still have the same beneficial effect as a longer, more intense workout.

According to the Mayo Clinic, a physical activity can be described as moderate if your breathing has quickened, if you start to sweat slightly after approximately ten minutes and if you can just about carry a conversation.

The study concluded that the individuals who partook in less than 20 minutes of moderate or vigorous exercise a day were most like to die prematurely.

The participants who exercised for around an hour in total over the course of the day reduced their risk of early death by 57 per cent.

Unsurprisingly, those who exercised at a moderate level for at least 100 per cent were the least at risk of premature death, with a 76 per cent lesser chance.

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