Longer vs. shorter workouts: What keeps you healthier?
Can working out for 10 minutes, three-times-a-day, be just as effective as one 30-minute workout?
Recent studies compared the benefits of various short workouts versus one longer workout in a day to see which had the biggest health benefit. The results were presented at the American College of Sports Medicine annual meeting last month.
Researchers at Capital University of Physical Education and Sports in Beijing monitored a group of men to gauge the change in blood flow during exercise. They specifically tracked arterial stiffness, which is a disorder called arteriosclerosis. This occurs when fat, cholesterol and other substances build up in the walls of arteries and form hard structures called plaques. Arteriosclerosis affects how hard the heart has to work to pump blood through the body.
Each participant worked out on a stationary exercise bike for 30 minutes on one day. The next day, the group divided their exercise time by doing two 15-minute sessions on the bike with 20 minutes of rest in-between.
Researchers found that in both scenarios the participant’s arteries were more elastic, which helps blood flow better. But with the 30-minute workouts, the benefits only lasted about 40 minutes afterwards. The shorter exercise spurts resulted in more elasticity for a longer period of time.
The results of a separate study weren’t as clear. Researchers monitored college students over an eight-week period comparing workout times and frequency on a treadmill. They found that when students jogged for a 30-minute period or completed three 10-minute workouts on the treadmill, the improvements in endurance were nearly the exact same.
Some sports medicine specialists any exercise is better than being sedentary.
Ed Bendoraitis, exercise physiologist at Advocate Good Samaritan Health and Wellness Center in Downers Grove, Ill, believes that fitting a cardio workout into your day, no matter the length, is important for heart health.
“Whether you squeeze in short workouts throughout the day or have the time to do a 30-45 minute workout, you are taking steps to better your health,” he says. “Exercise helps control your blood pressure and can help prevent against future heart disease.”
Bendoraitis says that short workouts can be extremely beneficial to get into a routine especially for newbies.
“If you are new to exercising or your schedule does not allow the longer workout, try a short morning, lunch and after dinner cardio workout that gets your heart rate up,” he says.
About the Author
Sarah Scroggins, health enews contributor, is the director of social media at Advocate Aurora Health. She has a BA and MA in Communications. When not on social media, she loves reading a good book (or audiobook), watching the latest Netflix series and teaching a college night class.