If you can’t seem to manage to get your federally recommended two and a half hours of moderate weekly exercise, don’t fret – every little bit helps. Even a very, very little bit.
Researchers from the University of Colorado’s Anschultz Medical Campus found that even two and a half minutes of intense effort within a single 25-minute sprint interval training session could burn as many as 200 extra calories in a day. They presented their work – which has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal – at The Integrative Biology of Exercise VI meeting
"Research shows that many people start an exercise program but just can't keep it up," researcher Kyle Sevits said in a statement Thursday. "The biggest factor people quote is that they don't have the time to fit in exercise. We hope if exercise can be fit into a smaller period of time, then they may give exercise a go and stick with it."
Sevits and his colleagues put five male volunteers on a diet calibrated to meet their metabolic needs, with just enough calories to maintain their current weight. Then the study subjects checked into a special research facility that analyzed their oxygen intake and carbon dioxide and water output to determine how many calories they burned.
The volunteers spent three days in the facility, two of which they spent doing mostly sedentary activities like using a computer or watching movies. On one of the days, they performed a sprint interval workout on a stationary bike – five 30 second intense periods interspersed with four minute-long recovery periods.
The results from the analysis showed the men burned an average of 200 extra calories on the day they did the sprint interval workout.
"Burning an extra 200 calories from these exercises a couple of times a week can help keep away that pound or two that many Americans gain each year," Sevits said.