Is less exercise really better?

We investigate whether short burst are better than a long slog

MOST POPULAR

By Amy Lawrenson

I’ve watched so many programmes and read so many studies from science bods saying that high intensity training (or HIT) is the way forward. It’s all about pushing yourself to the limit. Last month I tried CrossFit which is a form of HIT (you can read my review here). But what really interested me was the Horizon: The Truth about Exercise documentary (on BBC2 last month but you can watch it here...) that talked about, among other things, HIT mixed with interval training.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

MOST POPULAR

On the show the presenter Michael Mosley went great guns on an exercise bike three times per week for two minutes – 20 seconds cycling at 100 percent effort, 20 seconds resting and repeating this three times so he actually only did three minutes of exercise per week! He looked a bit crazy on the bike but he was doing it in his living room, thankfully.

I’m keen to give it a go, I don’t have any cardio equipment at home but when I was in the gym Monday I saw one of the fitness trainers instructing a group of women on running machines in interval HIT. The speed was set at 13.5 – pretty fast - and they were running for 30 seconds, then holding on to the handles and jumping off so each foot was on the static edge. Then after a 30 second rest easing themselves back on by holding onto the rails, lifting and lowering their bodyweight back on the moving treadmill.

Tomorrow morning I’m having my body fat analysed. I exercise about 3-4 times each week and have plateaued at the same weight and dress size for a while, so I want to see if in six weeks I can drop my percentage body fat and up my lean muscle (summer is not that far off you know!) The only difference in my training will be the addition of an interval HIT session three times per week. I’m going to do 10 minutes on the tread mill with intervals of 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off, so I’ll only be running for 5 minutes each time.

I may not be a scientist and this isn’t an exact experiment, but the experts already say such short bursts of exercise (that anyone can find time to fit in) can really improve fitness and possibly change your body. I’ll keep you posted, and feel free to join in with me!

Check back tomorrow for the results of my analysis...

Read Next: