Exercise: Short Bursts Or Long Duration?

How often have you used that classic excuse for not exercising, ‘I just don’t have the time’? It’s true that regular exercise takes commitment, but when time is at a premium, it becomes a question of exactly how much time you can spare – not whether you should do it at all.

Exercise is important for your overall health and weight loss, but you don’t have to spend two hours at the gym, or at home, to achieve a better level of fitness. Many experts advocate taking regular exercise in shorter bursts, rather than long sessions. Studies show that short, but highly intensive, exercise sessions are at least as effective for muscular and cardiovascular fitness as more moderate exercise, over a longer duration.

Supporters of this approach believe that our bodies aren’t actually designed for long-duration aerobic exercise and that, perhaps unexpectedly, lengthier exercise sessions may actually lead to weight gain. After more than 20 minutes of continuous exercise, your body starts burning fat as fuel and, in theory, this could lead your body to store more fat in readiness for future exertions.

On the other hand, highly-intensive, 15 to 20 minute sessions, help your body mainly burns carbohydrates in the form of stored glycogen. After some time, your body will start to get the message that it doesn’t need to store fat in order to build lean muscle tissue. So, next time you think you don’t have enough time to exercise, remember that a short 15-minute workout may do you more good than you might expect!