Brief, intense exercise benefits the heart

Jun 04, 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: Team approach improves practice efficiency

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Tattoo biobatteries produce power from sweat

Aug 13, 2014

In the future, working up a sweat by exercising may not only be good for your health, but it could also power your small electronic devices. Researchers will report today that they have designed a sensor ...

Body by smartphone

Jul 30, 2014

We love our smartphones. Since they marched out of the corporate world and into the hands of consumers about 10 years ago, we've relied more and more on our iPhone and Android devices to organize our schedules, ...

The heart of an astronaut, five years on

Jul 22, 2014

The heart of an astronaut is a much-studied thing. Scientists have analyzed its blood flow, rhythms, atrophy and, through journal studies, even matters of the heart. But for the first time, researchers are ...

Alexander's first week in space

Jun 06, 2014

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst has now spent a week in space on the International Space Station. As he grows accustomed to floating in weightlessness, he has been busy learning about his new home, taking over ...

Recommended for you

Obese or overweight teens more likely to become smokers

11 minutes ago

A study examining whether overweight or obese teens are at higher risk for substance abuse finds both good and bad news: weight status has no correlation with alcohol or marijuana use but is linked to regular ...

Taking preventive health care into community spaces

1 hour ago

A church. A city park. An office. These are not the typical settings for a medical checkup. But a new nationwide study by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research shows that providing health services in ...

User comments : 0