Short sprints are more beneficial than long runs


Six minutes of pure, hard exercise a week could be just as effective as an hour of daily moderate activity, according to a new study.

"Short bouts of very intense exercise improved muscle health and performance comparable to several weeks of traditional endurance training," said Martin Gibala, an associate professor at Canada's McMaster University. The research, published in the June edition of the Journal of Applied Physiology, says that repeatedly doing very intense exercise such as sprinting resulted in unique changes in skeletal muscle and endurance capacity, similar to training that requires hours of exercise each week.

Sixteen subjects were used in the test: Eight who performed two weeks of sprinting at intervals, and eight who did no exercise training. The program had in it four and seven 30-second bursts of "all out" cycling followed by four minutes of recovery time, three times a week for two weeks. Researchers found that endurance capacity in the sprint group increased on average from 26 minutes to 51 minutes, whereas the control group showed no change. The muscles of the trained group also showed a significant increase in a chemical known as citrate synthase, an enzyme that is indicative of the tissue's power to use oxygen.

"Sprint training may offer an option for individuals who cite lack of time as a major impediment to fitness and conditioning," said Gibala. "This type of training is very demanding and requires a high level of motivation, however less frequent, higher intensity exercise can indeed lead to improvements in health and fitness."

Extracted from McMaster university journal of Applied Physiology, discovered and published by Martin Gibala.