Body Blog: Less Time, More Rewards

Like many busy college students, I often justify skipping gym sessions by telling myself that I don’t have enough time.

“I have a paper to write, I can’t waste an hour waiting for the only elliptical that works.”
“I need to run on the treadmill for at least 45 minutes, and since I have a paper due tomorrow, that’s out of the question. I probably just shouldn’t go at all.”
“I’m not waking up at 7am to get in an hour workout before class.”

You know the deal.

I know that if I don’t clock in at least thirty minutes of cardio per session, I feel like my gym outing has been a waste and a failure. And I’m always hard on myself if I leave without doing crunches, even if I’ve run a couple of miles. In short — going to the gym has become about the time clock, but according to a study published in the New York Times, I’m going about things all wrong!

A couple of years ago, researchers from the National Institute of Health and Nutrition in Japan observed two groups of rats paddling in a small pool. The first group completed two 3-hour workout sessions, and the other group engaged in interval training, moving for twenty seconds and then resting for ten seconds for a total of 14 reps. The scientists were trying to figure out if prolonged exercise did more for the body’s endurance (ie., your ability to work out for longer, which translates into more calories burned) than the shorter/quicker exercise method. They found that both groups exhibited the same molecular changes that correspond with endurance gain, coming to the conclusion that we might be working out for longer than we really need to.

“There was a time when the scientific literature suggested that the only way to achieve endurance was through endurance-type activities,” Dr. Martin Gibala, a professor at McMaster University in Ontario, told the Times. He explained that people often choose to exercise casually for hours instead of just exerting as much energy as possible for a shorter amount of time. “We describe it as an ‘all-out’ effort,” Gibala said, noting that it is the kind of exercise that often forces people “out of their comfort zone.” While Gibala’s team has only studied this method for swimmers and cyclists, he believes that it might prove true for runners as well.

Gibala says that this method – pushing yourself to your limit for a shorter period of time – might aid in weight loss in addition to contributing to increased endurance in athletes and ordinary gym-goers alike. “The rate of energy expenditure remains higher longer into recovery,” meaning that you might continue to burn calories for a longer period of time after you leave the gym.

Less time at the gym?
More calories burned and increased endurance?

Put away the clocks and timers and get moving!

Body Blog: Super Bowling, Not Super Sizing
Body Blog: Super Bowling, Not Super Sizing
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