When Short Bouts Of Exercise Are Better Than One Long One

Most of us don't have a lot of time to exercise. Subsequently, we're faced with a choice: a bunch of short bouts of exercise, or one (or two) longer ones. According to a report by the New York Times, shorter bouts of exercise are often just as effective, and sometimes even more so.

Picture: lululemon athletica/Flickr

The New York Times article points to a few studies that show even short bursts of light exercise spread throughout the day are just as effective for overall health as longer bouts:

[W]hen researchers examined exercise and blood pressure control in a 2012 study, they found that one 30-minute afternoon walk improved blood pressure readings for 24 hours among adults with borderline hypertension. Three 10-minute walks spaced throughout the day improved overall blood pressure just as effectively, but unlike the single session, they also blunted subsequent spikes in pressure, which can indicate worsening blood pressure control.

In another study presented at the sports medicine meeting, Taiwanese researchers reported that eight weeks of treadmill jogging significantly improved college students’ endurance, and the improvements were almost identical, whether the volunteers jogged for 30 minutes or for three 10-minute sessions on the same day.

It's hard to say how effective the shorter bouts are in the long term, but they seem as useful as extended periods of exercise at least for those first few weeks. Especially when you're just starting out, 10 minutes of exercise three times a day is a lot more achievable than trying to go for a full 30 minutes.

Ask Well: 3 Short Workouts or 1 Long One? [New York Times]


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    High intensity training is proving to be the quickest and most effective form of exercising.

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