Long, low intensity exercise may have more health benefits relative to short, intense workouts

Standing and walking for longer stretches improves insulin sensitivity and blood lipid levels more than an hour of intense exercise each day does, but only if the calories spent in both forms of exercise are similar. The findings are published February 13 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Hans Savelberg and colleagues from Maastricht University, Netherlands.

The researchers recruited eighteen normal-weight 19 to 24-year-old participants for their study and asked them to follow three regimes. In the first, participants were instructed to sit for 14 hours each day and not indulge in any form of exercise; the second regime required participants to sit for 13 hours each day and exercise vigorously for 1 hour; and in the third, participants substituted six hours of sitting with four of walking and two hours standing. After each regime, the researchers tracked each participant's and , both of which can help identify metabolic conditions like diabetes and obesity.

The authors found that overall, when participants followed the strictly sedentary regimen they burned over the course of the day than in the other two routines, which were roughly the same. Cholesterol and lipid levels improved slightly when participants exercised vigorously for an hour each day, but improved significantly when participants were active for longer periods at low intensity According to the study, being active simply by standing or walking for long periods of time significantly improved compared to both a strictly sedentary lifestyle, and one in which participants were largely sedentary except for an hour of exercise each day. The study concludes that when energy expenditure is equivalent, longer durations of low-intensity exercise may offer more benefits than shorter periods of intense activity.

More information: PLoS ONE 8(2): e55542. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055542

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Aerobic exercise may improve nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

Apr 13, 2011

Walking on a treadmill for one hour a day may slow the progression of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in obese people with prediabetes by jump-starting their metabolism and slowing the oxidative damage wrought by the condition, ...

Even women who exercise sit too much

Nov 30, 2012

(HealthDay)—For women who love that great, self-satisfied feeling after a workout, a new study could be a disappointing surprise. Regular exercise, the study found, does not reduce the risk of an otherwise ...

Recommended for you

Targeting the brain to treat obesity

Jul 23, 2014

Unlocking the secrets to better treating the pernicious disorders of obesity and dementia reside in the brain, according to a paper from American University's Center for Behavioral Neuroscience. In the paper, researchers ...

Parents rank their obese children as 'very healthy'

Jul 21, 2014

A University of California, San Diego School of Medicine-led study suggests that parents of obese children often do not recognize the potentially serious health consequences of childhood weight gain or the importance of daily ...

User comments