You have to break a sweat

November 28, 2013 by
Filed under: Research, Spinewave Bulletin 

boot camp exercise chiropractorA one hour high-intensity workout provides the same fitness benefits as 50 hours of walking, a major Flinders University study has found.

An hour of high-intensity exercise results in the same amount of fat loss as 2 hours of moderate-intensity exercise.

High-intensity exercise is defined as exercise which pushes your heart rate up to 75% of its maximum capacity or more.

The study, led by Flinders health sciences lecturer Dr Lynda Norton with researchers from the University of South Australia, measured the health benefits gained from every minute of vigorous activity compared to the same time spent in moderate-intensity exercise. They assessed the affects on four disease risk factors; body fat and weight, cholesterol, hip and waist girth, and aerobic fitness.

More than 620 adults completed the six-week exercise program, with participants divided into two groups and asked to perform either a one hour high-intensity workout, such as circuit training, boxing or step classes, three times a week or 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking, seven days a week.

While the moderate-intensity exercisers still gained some health benefits compared to 135 adults who did not participate in the program, Dr Norton said significantly greater benefits were achieved by the high-intensity exercise group.

“Most physical activity guidelines recommend a 30 minute daily walk but we found that it would take 50 hours of walking to achieve the same aerobic fitness that you could get from just one hour of high-intensity or vigorous activity,” Dr Norton, based in Social Health Sciences, said.

“When we looked at cholesterol, we found it would take five hours of walking to see the same improvements as one hour of vigorous exercise, and for body mass index, it was the equivalent of about eight hours of walking,” she said.

Dr Norton said that while the benefits of high-intensity exercise are well documented, the study was the first of its kind to measure the magnitude of change across major risk factors for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases when directly compared to walking.

The study has just been submitted for publication in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.

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