Go for high-intensity shorter intervals of exercise

I have often wondered about the long term affects on my health of working in a profession where I am predominantly sitting in a chair.  Unlike other jobs I can’t easily get up and walk around my place of work when I am counselling and in listening mode.  I have found, therefore, it is critical to find opportunities to undertake intensive physical exercise.

Finding the time for fitness work-outs can often be a challenge. However, I was heartened to learn today of the findings of research led by Dr Stuart Gray at the University of Aberdeen.


Researchers from  Musculoskeletal Research Programme at the university found that if you spend two minutes and thirty seconds exercising at a high level of intensity, that this could be better than longer sessions of less intense exercise at protecting the body against risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD).

This is heartening as technically one can secure adequate levels of physical exercise by climbing a steep set of stairs at fast pace rather than having to go the gym.

Dr Gray, who led the research group,  commented: “Although moderate intensity, longer sessions of exercise can help protect the body against CVD, 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. This is highly important as time is often cited as the main barrier to taking part in exercise.”  Dr Gray added  “We are now investigating how long the benefits of a short high-intensity exercise session last on the body to analyse how frequently a person should exercise at this level to help protect the body against CVD. Our initial findings suggest that this type of exercise session would need to be undertaken on most days of the week to maintain the associated health benefits for the body.”

What the research findings demonstrate is that it is not the length of time exercising but the intensity of the exercise.  Therefore, even working in a job with limited opportunities to move around you could easily undertake short intense periods of exercise (such as walking up and down the steps of a fire escape at speed, if working in an office block, and not have to go to the gym for a work-out).  I am not sure what these findings will do for the gym industry.