With many of us struggling to get enough exercise, sport and exercise scientists at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) and the University of Birmingham, under the lead of Professor Anton Wagenmakers, have been working on a time-saving solution.
Instead of long stints in the gym and miles of running in the cold, the same results could be achieved in less than a third of the time, according to new research published today (1 February) in The Journal of Physiology.
The current recommendation of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UK Department of Health is that people of all ages should do three to five hours of endurance training per week to increase health and fitness and prevent chronic diseases and premature mortality. However, most people find it difficult to set aside this much time in their busy lives.
This study has taken existing research to a new level to prove that replacing endurance training with two types of interval training, High intensity Interval Training (HIT) and Sprint Interval Training (SIT), can make a massive difference to our health and aerobic fitness. In two articles in the 1 February issue of The Journal of Physiology, the researchers describe their recent discoveries that three sessions of SIT, taking just 90 min per week, are as effective as five sessions of traditional endurance exercise, taking five hours per week, in increasing whole body insulin sensitivity via two independent mechanisms.
LJMU researcher Matthew Cocks explains: 'One mechanism involves improved delivery of insulin and glucose to the skeletal muscle and the other involves improved burning of the fat stored in skeletal muscle fibres. Additionally, we found a reduced stiffness of large arteries which is important in reducing the risk of vascular disease.'
On the basis of these novel and earlier findings from other laboratories, Professor Wagenmakers expects that HIT and SIT will turn out to be unique alternative exercise modes suitable to prevent blood vessel disease, hypertension, diabetes and most of the other ageing and obesity related chronic diseases.