Published on Tuesday, April 26, 2016, in the journal Plos One, a new study has compared sprint interval training (SIT) with moderate-intensity continuous training (MCIT) and has found that SIT produces the same results as MCIT in only three minutes of intense exercise per week as compared to 150. The study aimed to compare the impact of SIT and MCIT while measuring changes regarding insulin sensitivity, cardio metabolic health, including fitness levels and the skeletal muscle content.
The study involved 27 inactive men who did not regularly exercise and were assigned to either one of the three conditions (intense but short interval workouts three times a week, moderate workouts three times a week and a control group) and required to carry out training for a period of twelve weeks. The SIT training included a total of 10 minutes with three 20 second all out sprints, two minutes of warm up, three minutes for cooling down and two minutes of low intensity cycling in between sprints to gain back momentum. Out of the entire 10-minute workout, the most strenuous of all time lasted for just about one minute. Results revealed after carrying out glucose tolerance tests that SIT displayed a remarkable improvement in insulin sensitivity levels by up to 20 percent with increased energy and oxygen in the skeletal muscles of men and improved overall heart condition with increased cardiovascular fitness levels. With time and practice, the routine can also be changed and tapered according to your needs and wants by sparing more minutes in sprinting and less in recovering or less in sprinting and more in recovering.
Sprint interval training is also known as high-intensity interval training or high intensity intermittent exercise and is known for improving indices of glycemic control and cardio respiratory fitness. Its main purpose is built on the idea that we push the body to its maximum level in short intervals, enough to produce the highest amount of oxygen through bursts of exercise and reaching our vo2 max capacity while at the same time stopping to do small exercises to recover as to not reaching a burn out point. This is because our body is built in such a way that even after we stop, our body still continues to consume oxygen for the next 48 hours at least thus rendering the traditional method of exercise obsolete and unnecessary. The short intervals are not there to slow us down but in fact to make us work even harder keeping our limits and capacities in mind.
Lead author of the study and professor of kinesiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Martin Gibala declares that ‘brief bursts of intense exercise are remarkably effective.’ He suggests that ‘climbing a few flights of stairs on your lunch hour can provide a quick and effective workout. The health benefits are significant.’
With this new approach, even science is encouraging us to get up and get moving. The short and limited timeframe changes everything and we can no longer say that we don’t have time to exercise or it’s just for athletes or come up with an exhausting list of excuses to stay unfit. Those who have busy schedules and are unable to otherwise take out time for physical exercise can now easily take out three minutes and commit themselves to this regimen to achieve the desired results. It should be noted however that SIT can only be carried out in instances where motivation levels are extremely high as it requires us to completely be present and continuously push ourselves back up.