interval training for better bones

Take a minute for your health in the new year

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I’m a big believer that any step you take to improve your health, no matter how minor it may seem, can have profound effects on all the body’s interconnected systems.

Case in point: a recent study on interval training found that exercising a few times week for 10 minutes — with just 60 seconds of maximal effort per session — was enough to boost insulin sensitivity, cardiorespiratory fitness, and skeletal muscle strength.

In the study, the researchers took an interval training regimen developed some years ago that used 20 to 30 minutes of cycling per session and pared it down to a 10-minute program to see if the benefits could be obtained with even less time commitment. Over the course of 12 weeks, previously sedentary men engaged in interval training 3 times per week for 10 minutes per session. Their workouts consisted of:

  • 2 minutes of low-intensity cycling followed by a maximum-effort burst lasting 20 seconds (performed 3 times)
  • A 3-minute cool-down to end the session.

Meanwhile, a continuous training group did a 2-minute warm up, followed by 45 minutes of cycling at 70% max heart rate, then a 3-minute cool down.

Just 60 seconds is all it takes

The astonishing conclusion was that the sprint interval training regimen — a total time commitment of 30 minutes per week, with just 60 seconds of maximal effort per session — was as effective as 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity continuous training. And more amazing is that benefits were seen across the board — increasing insulin sensitivity, cardiorespiratory fitness, and skeletal muscle mitochondrial content. (I should note here that although this particular study was done with men, other research suggests interval training has a similar effect among women.)

This is an absolutely incredible finding! It reinforces the idea that even a small commitment of time and effort and can have big benefits. So go all out for a minute to improve your bone health — and total health — this year!

Reference
Gillen JB, Martin BJ, MacInnes MJ, et al. Twelve weeks of sprint interval training improves indices of cardiometabolic health similar to traditional endurance training despite a five-fold lower exercise volume and time commitment. PLoS One. 2016 Apr 26;11(4):e0154075. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0154075.


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