Brief, intense exercise benefits the heart

June 4, 2008

Short bursts of high intensity sprints -- known to benefit muscle and improve exercise performance—can improve the function and structure of blood vessels, in particular arteries that deliver blood to our muscles and heart, according to new research from McMaster University.

The study, lead by kinesiology doctoral student Mark Rakobowchuk, is published online in the journal American Journal of Physiology. Regulatory, Integrative & Comparative Physiology.

The findings support the idea that people can exercise using brief, high-intensity forms of exercise and reap the same benefits to cardiovascular health that can be derived from traditional, long-duration and moderately intense exercise.

"As we age, the arteries become stiffer and tend to lose their ability to dilate, and these effects contribute to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease," says Maureen MacDonald, academic advisor and an associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology. "More detrimental is the effect that blood vessel stiffening has on the heart, which has to circulate blood".

The research compared individuals who completed interval training using 30-second "all-out" sprints three days a week to a group who completed between 40 and 60 minutes of moderate-intensity cycling five days a week.

It found that six weeks of intense sprint interval exercise training improves the structure and function of arteries as much as traditional and longer endurance exercise with larger time commitment.

"More and more, professional organizations are recommending interval training during rehabilitation from diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, peripheral artery disease and cardiovascular disease. Our research certainly provides evidence that this type of exercise training is as effective as traditional moderate intensity training," says MacDonald. "We wouldn't be surprised to see more rehabilitation programs adopt this method of training since it is often better tolerated in diseased populations".

Further, this research also shows that those who have a hard time scheduling exercise into their life can still benefit from the positive effects, if they are willing to work hard for brief periods of time, she says.

Source: McMaster University

Explore further: Taking a stand on staying mobile after 80

Related Stories

Taking a stand on staying mobile after 80

August 14, 2017
(HealthDay)—If you want to stay as fit as possible well into your 80s, the answer may be as simple as standing on your own two feet.

The secret to beating bone and joint health injuries? Get to the right medical team

August 14, 2017
Orthopaedic surgeons are medical doctors with extensive training in the diagnosis as well as surgical and nonsurgical treatment of injuries to the musculoskeletal system. Orthopaedists can help prevent injuries; put people ...

Simple, low-cost respiratory sensor measures and tracks personal metabolism

July 28, 2017
The U.S. military has great interest in more comprehensive measurement and tracking of metabolism, both for optimizing the performance of warfighters under demanding physical conditions and for maintaining the health and ...

Lifestyle changes to stave off Alzheimer's? Hints, no proof

July 20, 2017
There are no proven ways to stave off Alzheimer's, but a new report raises the prospect that avoiding nine key risks starting in childhood just might delay or even prevent about a third of dementia cases around the world.

Black seniors test power of reminisce to protect aging brain

July 25, 2017
Sharon Steen dons her tennis shoes and, with two fellow seniors, walks streets that in her youth were a vibrant center of Portland, Oregon's African-American community. Wasn't this the corner where an NAACP march began in ...

Combating chronic kidney disease with exercise

June 28, 2017
A University of Delaware research team in the College of Health Sciences is combating chronic kidney disease (CKD) with exercise.

Recommended for you

To reduce postoperative pain, consider sleep—and caffeine

August 18, 2017
Sleep is essential for good mental and physical health, and chronic insufficient sleep increases the risk for several chronic health problems.

Despite benefits, half of parents against later school start times

August 18, 2017
Leading pediatrics and sleep associations agree: Teens shouldn't start school so early.

Doctors exploring how to prescribe income security

August 18, 2017
Physicians at St. Michael's Hospital are studying how full-time income support workers hired by health-care clinics can help vulnerable patients or those living in poverty improve their finances and their health.

Schoolchildren who use e-cigarettes are more likely to try tobacco

August 17, 2017
Vaping - or the use of e-cigarettes - is widely accepted as a safer option for people who are already smoking.

Federal snack program does not yield expected impacts, researchers find

August 17, 2017
A well-intentioned government regulation designed to offer healthier options in school vending machines has failed to instill better snacking habits in a sample of schools in Appalachian Virginia, according to a study by ...

In a nutshell: Walnuts activate brain region involved in appetite control

August 17, 2017
Packed with nutrients linked to better health, walnuts are also thought to discourage overeating by promoting feelings of fullness. Now, in a new brain imaging study, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.