We are used to running for extended periods of time, especially that one long run each week. But if you are pressed for time, you actually should change your workout from a moderate pace to short bouts of high-intensity training instead.
A recent study published in the journal Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental suggests what we’ve all been hearing about HIIT (high-intensity interval training): It may have a better effect on your overall health than long, moderate workouts.
Mirroring the way children exercise, workout hard for a short time and then rest, is actually better for you.
In this study, adolescents had their blood sugar, blood pressure, and fat metabolism measured at intervals over eight hours and consumed a fatty meal for both breakfast and lunch. Participants were told to exercise at a moderate and high-level of intensity for four different periods. Both moderate and high intensity exercisers performed the same amount of work. Researchers found high-intensity was more effective in improving blood sugar levels, fat metabolism and blood pressure in adolescents after consuming a fatty meal.
Dr Alan Barker, of the Children’s Health and Exercise Research Centre, Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Exeter, said: “Children and adolescents tend to perform brief bouts of exercise. This study shows that the intensity of this pattern of exercise is important, with high-intensity providing superior health benefits than moderate-intensity exercise.”
What does this mean for running? Running four miles at a moderate pace may not be as effective as running four one-miles hard broken up throughout the course of a day. You will reap greater rewards in shorter bursts than something longer. Breaking it up like this may also keep you motivated. Knowing you only have run one mile is something much more reasonable.