One of the best new studies we’ve heard about suggests that getting just four seconds of high intensity exercise repeated throughout the day can help undo a day of sitting. Researchers with the University of Texas at Austin found there are huge benefits to doing these tiny bursts of exercise, which is great news for those of us who spend hours at a time sitting at our desks.
For the study, eight healthy young men and women were recruited to sit down for a full day and only got up to eat or go to the bathroom. The next day, scientists fed them a high-fat breakfast of melted ice cream then monitored their bodies’ metabolic responses. Another day, the volunteers sat down all day again, but this time, they got up every hour to sprint as fast as they could for a few seconds on a stationary bike. They biked for four seconds, rested for 45 seconds, then pedaled again, repeating the pattern five times. They did it for eight hours, which added up to less than three minutes of exercise.
Once again, they downed the breakfast shake the next morning and had their metabolic responses measured. But this time, they had totally changed. Not only did the participants burn more fat the second time, their blood triglyceride levels were 30% lower after the sprinting sessions. So basically, the short bursts of exercise between sitting sessions helped undo some of the effects of being sedentary. Sure, the study size was small, but study author Dr. Ed Coyle says the results are achievable, especially while working from home.