Every Burst Counts: New Discoveries About the Power of Short Intense Workouts

For a long time, most devoted exercisers have adhered to the rule that a sustained stretch of aerobic exercise, one that kept your heart pounding for at least 10 minutes, was what garnered the desired results: a healthy weight and a fit body, not to mention less money shelled out on health insurance co-payments!

Interestingly, a study published last year in the American Journal of Health Promotion, revealed an exciting new discovery by researchers at the University of Utah: Even short bursts of aerobic activity can work to promote weight loss, so long as they reach a certain level of intensity. In fact, when it comes to preventing weight gain, researchers found that intensity matters more than duration. So you can potentially stay fit, trim, and healthy even if you can only squeeze in a short burst here and a quick burst there.

This is particularly encouraging news for busy adults who fail to workout at all because they cannot find those free blocks of time in their schedules. Between going to work, caring for kids, maintaining a marriage, and keeping the house in tip top shape, many of us have struggled to find a free half-hour several days a week to tend to our own bodies. Now that we know short, intense bursts of activity do count, it’s possible to increase fitness and manage weight by weaving mini-workouts into the fabric of your days.

Here are some tips for making the short bursts of activity add up:

  • Someone requires a blood transfusion every two seconds!
  • Walk fast – To ensure that you are getting moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA), you must move at the speed of at least 3 mph while walking. There are gadgets that can tell you about your speed, but you should be able to tell whether your walk is brisk (good!) or leisurely (not so good.)
  • Take the stairs – Is your office on the fifth floor? Are you accustomed to taking the elevator? If you take the stairs, and move briskly, it will count.
  • Park at the far end of the lot – Create opportunities for short bursts of activity by distancing yourself from your ultimate destination.
  • Run your errands on foot – If possible, walk from one store to another when running your errands. Again, this creates the opportunity for shorts bursts of activity.

Make it your goal to get 150 minutes of MVPA every week.

Stay positive and motivated knowing that every little minute really does count. The study found that, for women, spending just one extra minute of high-intensity exertion was linked with a .07 decrease in body mass index. Moreover, every extra minute per day of high-intensity exertion decreased obesity odds by five percent for women and two percent for men. So move, and move briskly, whenever you have the chance. Your body will thank you!
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