Monday, February 16, 2009

I've Been Going About It All Wrong

Although I promised a friend I was laying off exercise for a couple of days because my back was feeling a little bit funky, I just returned from a righteous 2-hour workout that included four miles of cardio and a butt-load of weightlifting. I've been anxious and a little bummed out these days, and the only thing that really keeps my brain from running like a hamster on the wheel of anxiety is a whole bunch of exercise, so I am using that as an excuse.

Turns out, however, that those hours a week I spend running on the treadmill or elliptical might be moot. It seems that despite recently reading that we need more vigorous exercise than ever, apparently to keep Type 2 diabetes at bay, you only need...wait for it...7.5 minutes of sprints a week.

The experiment, which showed that short-duration high-intensity exercise helped people boost their ability to metabolize glucose, led researchers to recommend that "people should try for four to six 30-second bouts of intense exercise, such as cycling or running up stairs, twice a week." Hmm, a half a minute four times a week? I think I can fit that into my busy schedule. Will I get sweaty?

The article further notes: "Recommendations for high intensity, short duration exercise could one day replace current physical activity guidelines, [study author Dr. James A.] Timmons said. 'Only large scale trials could prove this,' he said. 'But there is mounting evidence that doing this new protocol will deliver the same reductions in risk factors. The key thing with exercise is the more routine you make it, the more likely you will benefit.' And doing seven minutes of exercise a week, every week, he added, may be better than doing three hours a week just a few times a year."

Of course, the experiment was conducted exclusively on men in their 20s (they had been sedentary at the start of the study), so if you're not a 20-year-old guy, or have other wellness concerns besides diabetes, don't abandon your long walks or bicycle rides just yet.


ManAtWork said...

That's like just running up the stairs at work between meetings. Cool! I AM meeting the guidelines.

Miriam said...

I'm not sure if it counts if you're running upstairs to get cornbread, ManAtWork.