Fitness Study: Sprints More Heart-Healthy Than Less-Intense Exercise Sessions

Is it time to step off the treadmill?

A new study from the UK suggests that short bursts of physical activity could protect the body more effectively from heart disease than exercising for longer periods of time.

In the study conducted by the University of Aberdeen, a group of men exercised for 2-1/2 minutes, consisting of five 30-second sprints with four minutes of reach between each. The men then chowed down on a high-fat meal. The study findings revealed that the fat content of their blood was reduced by 33% over what it would have been with no exercise. Study data also indicated that with the same food intake, 30 minutes of brisk walking only reduced the fat content of the blood by 11%.

These findings are significant, according to, because “The faster the body is able to get rid of the fat in the blood following a high-fat meal, the less at risk that person is of developing [cardiovascular disease]…”

Study leader Dr. Stuart Gray suggested that this study could be good news for those who claim they just don’t have time to go to the gym:

“Although moderate intensity, longer sessions of exercise can help protect the body against [cardiovascular disease], the findings of our study showed that high-intensity shorter intervals of exercise might be a more effective method to improve health and reduce the time commitment to exercise.”

Dr. Gray and his team are now trying to determine how often a person needs to exercise intensely to gain and maintain the fat-content benefits.

Published in the Clinical Science journal, the study only involved nine men who completed three, two-day trials, so the results most likely will also have to be validated over a larger population. As compared to moderate exercise, “high-intensity intermittent exercise might be a more effective method to improve health,” the study concludes.

Along these general lines, another recent study determined that 30 minutes of daily exercise is really all you need to stay healthy and that you’ll achieve the same weight loss at 30 minutes that you would at 60.