Improve your Heart with Short Workouts

A recent study has concluded that short bouts of high intensity exercise is as effective at improving the structure and function of your heart’s arteries as the traditional long duration cardio-vascular training.

Participants in the study were divided into two groups:

  • The “sprint” group performed only 3 workouts per week. Each workout consisted of 4 to 6 sets of 30 second sprints on an exercise bike. The participants pedaled slowly for 4 1/2minutes between sets of sprints.
  • The “cardio” group worked out 5 times per week. Each workout consisted of 40-60 min ofcycling at 65% of their VO2peak.

After 6 weeks, both groups showed similar improvement of arterial structure and function.

Why Is This Important?

Traditionally, as we age, our arteries become stiff and lose their ability to dilate. This leads to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

Note – if you don’t know why that is important, please click the above links and spend some time at the Mayo Clinic site. You might be visiting sooner than you think.

Let’s Review

  • Sprint of High Intensity Interval Training is as effective as Endurance or Cardio training at preventing age related arterial stiffening.

That’s Good.

  • Sprint training requires a commitment of 20-30 minutes, 3 times per week (60-90 min per week) to effect that improvement.

That’s Good.

  • Endurance training requires 40-60 minutes, 5 times per week (200-300 min per week) to effect the desired improvement.

If you are like the rest of us time starved North Americans, that is not so good.

It’s your choice. I suggest you improve your heart with short workouts.

Doug Robb is a personal trainer, a fitness blogger and author, a competitive athlete, a social media nerd and a student of nutrition and exercise science. Since 2008, Doug has brought his real-world experience online via his health & fitness blog, Health Habits.