Brief, intense exercise yields greater fat loss

Who doesn’t want to burn more fat in less time?

Results from a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise revealed an over 50% greater fat loss in participants who did short sprints rather than moderate-intensity running.

While the study involved only twenty participants, the results are consistent with the research that short-duration, high-intensity training appears to be significantly more effective at lowering body fat compared to moderate or low-intensity longer duration exercise.

Sprinters lost more fat with shorter workouts
In this study, subjects were divided into two groups: sprinters and runners. Both groups ran three times/week for 6 weeks. The sprinters completed six 30-second sprints with up to 4 minutes of rest between each of the six sprints. The running group ran for 30-60 minutes at 65% VO2 max.
Both groups improved their 2,000-meter run time and VO2 max, but the sprint group dropped 12.4% fat whereas the moderate-intensity running group lost only 5.8%.

Special considerations
Before running out (pun intended) and starting a high-intensity exercise program, it is important to check with a qualified health professional beforehand to make sure it is safe for you.
For example, people currently battling cancer with chemotherapy or radiation may need to be particularly cautious with high intensity exercise.  A recent in vitro study (not verified with living subjects) showed that stress, including physical stress of high-intensity exercise, seems to activate a protein that helps cancer cells survive treatments such as chemo and radiation. Any intense prolonged physical activity a couple of days before the start of cancer therapy was deemed highly risky based on the in vitro test results.

However, because exercise is a well-known stress reducer and many studies demonstrate the health benefits of exercise for those undergoing cancer treatment, much more research needs to be done to clarify this one study’s findings. We may find out that high-intensity exercise helps with all cell survival, not just cancer cell survival. In a different scenario, improving a cell’s ability to recover from radiation could be a very good thing.

If given the green light by your primary health professional, short-duration, high-intensity exercise is worth exploring if fat loss is your goal.

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