Although the research relied on a specialised type of stationary bike, the discovery still shows that short bursts of exercise can help improve our health.
Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin recruited eight healthy young men and women to sit down for a full day. They only left their chair to eat or go to the bathroom.
The following day, the team of scientists gave participants a high-fat breakfast consisting of melted ice cream. The study authors monitored their bodies’ metabolic response over the next six hours.
On another day, again researchers had volunteers sit down all day. However, this time, every hour, they sprinted for a few seconds on a stationary bicycle with no resistance. Research subjects peddled for four seconds, rested for 45 and peddled again, repeating that routine five times. They did this for eight hours – just under 3 minutes worth of exercises.
Despite completing just 160 second seconds of exercises, their metabolic responses had changed. They burned more fat and exhibited lower blood levels of triglycerides.
Findings suggest that breaking up stints of sitting with frequent, intense and extremely short bursts of exercise could undo some of the effects of being sedentary.
Although the sample size was small and the study, short, Dr. Ed Coyle, the study’s lead author and a professor of kinesiology and health education explains that these efforts are achievable – especially while working from home.
“When you find yourself sitting for most of the day, try to rise frequently and move, preferably intensely, as often during the day as possible and for as many seconds as you can manage,” he said.