Short, intense exercises like climbing stairs certainly offer health benefits but cannot replace true high-intensity sessions. The expert: Useful as a break in sedentary work
Enough climb the stairs for about twenty seconds several times a day to improve aerobic capacity. Or you can opt for a few minutes of cycling or two minutes of running. Five minutes of brisk walking every half hour they improve blood sugar levels. Actually no, they are enough to avoid diabetes five minute walk after lunch. One minute of intense training is worth 45 moderates. Two minutes of daily exercises they extend life. Even chasing the bus can improve your physical fitness and extend your life, because intensity rhymes with longevity.
Start moving regularly again
For those who don’t like physical exercise, it’s impossible to resist certain headlines on websites and newspapers that do nothing but report scientific studies on the subject published in prestigious magazines. But the question: What are these micro workouts really for? Certainly these short exercises, snack exercise as the Americans call them, they are easier to include in daily activities than the 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week (or 75 minutes of vigorous activity) suggested by international guidelines. Introduce exercise snacks it can be a first step for one good recovery after a long stop and get mentally and physically closer to the idea of move regularlyperhaps after a break during the holidays, he underlines Gianfranco Beltramispecialist in Sports Medicine and Cardiology, vice president of the Italian Sports Medicine Federation.
Snack exercise and high intensity training
The benefits of snack exercises are based on research carried out over the last twenty years on high intensity training (HIIT, High intensive interval training). High intensity exercise involves a series of near-exhaustion efforts between 20 and 60 seconds long, interspersed with short pauses and then repeated several times. Some studies suggest that HIIT workouts bring the same benefits as consistent, moderate-intensity exercise, including improving aerobic capacity and cardiac output and reducing heart rate and blood pressure. But in less time.
The researchers then asked themselves:effectiveness of these short and intense exercises is maintained even if they are performed during the day, with hours-long recovery breaks instead of a few seconds?
Few studies on micro workouts
So far, small worker studies have suggested that micro workouts can improve some health parameters. In one study We followed 12 sedentary adults who started climbing three flights of stairs (60 steps) three times a day for three days a week. After six weeks their aerobic capacity, measured with maximum oxygen consumption (V02 max test)that is, the maximum amount of oxygen an individual can use during intense exercise, was improved by 5%. The study’s lead author, Jonathan Piccolo, a professor at British Columbia, said this result is more or less what one would expect with three days of brisk walking for 30 minutes each week, as reported by the
New York Times
. However, the authors concluded that snack exercises done while climbing stairs are effective for improving cardiovascular fitness, although the absolute data is modest overall.
Another study conducted on more than 25,000 British adults found that just one or two minutes of vigorous movement three times a day was associated with a 40% lower risk of death and a 50% lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared to those who did no physical activity. vigorous physique.
No to sedentary lifestyle
However these studies are observational: they cannot demonstrate the cause-effect principle. Furthermore, based on a review conducted by
British Medical Journal
in 2019, the model that most reduces the risk of premature mortality is the one with high level of total physical activity at any intensity, associated with less time spent sedentary. The advantage of snack exercises would therefore be less substantial. However, if performed regularly and safely, these short high intensity shots could represent the beginning of an activity for sedentary people – underlines Gianfranco Beltrami -. Little activity is better than none.
How to incorporate exercise snacks into your routine
Even those who train regularly can reap the benefits of short, intense efforts, perhaps concluding a walk or bike ride with a final sprint, underlines Emmanuel Stamatakis, one of the authors of the review on BMJThat he has been studying this topic for some time. The researcher suggests some stratagems to insert fragments of vigorous exercises into everyday life. For example, if it is half a kilometer from home to the supermarket, it is not necessary to run the entire distance, but you can speed up your pace two or three times. Instead of taking the elevator you can choose the stairs: if you live on the tenth floor it is not necessary to climb all the floors immediately, perhaps you can start with two or three and then integrate. Even carrying five percent of your body weight for a minute or two is equivalent to carrying a large backpack. Finally, any type of short, fast uphill walk is a cure-all and a healthy high-intensity activity.
High intensity and snack exercise
Physical exercise makes us fitter and healthier because our muscles and our cardiovascular system become stronger and more efficient over time – underlines Gianfranco Beltrami -. There are many work activities that are physically demanding for short periods during the course of work and are certainly better for your health than sitting in a chair for eight hours. However you do not have the same advantages that a high intensity workout done well for at least 15-20 continuous minutes can give maintaining a high heart rate which causes both cardiovascular and neuroendocrine adaptations to be very different.
For some scientists, the benefits of HIIT may also be inflated, as he claims Panteleimon Ekkekakis, professor of exercise psychology at Michigan State University, who in his recent work points out that most laboratory studies on short but intense efforts are small and this limits their statistical power. Furthermore, outside the laboratory, personal trackers allow studies on a larger number of people, but the devices do not necessarily record factors such as intensity precisely, especially in the short term.
Move, move, move
In conclusion, intense exercises for a few seconds or minutes several times throughout the day are likely to bring benefits, especially when you spend long periods glued to your chair or have no other time to exercise. However, the scientific literature is rather sparse on the real benefits of this type of activity even if studies are underway to find the ideal dose to achieve significant changes in health.
Numerous studies with thousands of participants however very clearly support this the health benefits of 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. These activities should not be replaced with micro workouts – underlines Beltrami -, but at the same time, even for those who achieve these objectives, it is not healthy to spend the rest of the time sitting in front of a PC, whether for school or leisure: for this reason the micro workouts can integrate a more structured activity. Practicing a sport is not enough for our health if we remain inactive for the rest of the day concludes Beltrami. Maybe it’s still too early to cancel gym training.
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January 14, 2024 (changed January 14, 2024 | 07:40)
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