Weight Loss: Intensity counts

Even short bouts of high-intensity physical activity help in curbing weight gain, claims new study

Man JoggingWe often go through bouts of determined exercise lasting just a few minutes—much shorter than the recommended minimum 10-minute session.  Is all such exercise as waste of effort? No, says a new study. Published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, the study by University of Utah researchers found that even short  stints  of physical activity beyond a level of intensity can have as positive an effect on weight.

"What we learned is that for preventing weight gain, the intensity of the activity matters more than duration," says Jessie X. Fan, professor of family and consumer studies at the University. "This new understanding is important because fewer than 5 percent of American adults today achieve the recommended level of physical activity in a week according to the current physical activity guidelines. Knowing that even short bouts of 'brisk' activity can add up to a positive effect is an encouraging message for promoting better health."

The current physical activity guideline is a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity [MVPA] a week, to  be done in sets of eight to 10 minute periods. MVPA roughly can be considered to be equivalent of walking at speed of about three mph. But climbing up the stairs, parking away from the mall so that you need to walk, and walking to a nearby story to buy household items also can make help positively in arresting weight gain, the researchers note.

The study concluded that higher-intensity activity led to  a lower risk of obesity—whether "bouts" were of lesser than 10 minutes or greater did not matter.

The key lesson from the study is : even a small  effort in the right direction can make a positive health impact.

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