Well, recent research has shown that you can get the same benefits of those long hours on the treadmill in just minutes with interval training. April Long, writer for Elle, investigated some of this research and found information that will really help your workout routine:
In a study conducted at Ontario’s McMaster University in 2006, one group of healthy male college students rode stationary bicycles for one and a half to two hours, while another group interspersed four to six 30-second sets of maximum-intensity cycling with four minutes of rest. After doing this activity three days a week for two weeks, the groups showed identical endurance-related molecular changes in their muscle tissue, even though one had exercised only about a total of 15 minutes and the other about 10.5 hours.
Further studies performed by the same group of researchers, and reported on by The New York Times’ Gretchen Reynolds this February, showed that even a slightly less grueling approach—one minute of strenuous exercise at 90 percent of a person’s maximum heart rate (which most of us can estimate, roughly, by subtracting our age from 220), followed by one minute of recovery, repeated 10 times—resulted in improvements in insulin sensitivity and blood sugar regulation in healthy adults, as well as significant cardiovascular improvements in the hearts of cardiac patients. “After interval training of relatively small volume, the blood vessels get more elastic, similar to what we see with a larger amount of traditional cardio training,” says kinesiology professor Martin Gibala, PhD, who conducted the studies.
You may not have 5 hours a week to hit the gym, but interval training takes minutes and gives us a lot of the same benefits of traditional cardio. How can you squeeze 30 seconds of intense stairs or other quick workouts into your daily routine?