Move over interval training because there’s a new form of exercise in town. The sedentary lifestyle is commonplace in the modern world. People sit at desks for hours on end or binge-watch shows or movies on the couch. Rarely are these long periods of sitting broken up by exercise. People make excuses that they don’t have time to workout. That changes today because new research indicates that four-second, high-intensity workouts counteract the metabolic consequences of sitting all day.
Even though gyms and outdoor workout areas are closed, people around the world have the ability to exercise. Most people no longer commute to work, so use that old drive time to exercise. The drive has to be there, though, and it seems that lethargy has set in for a high percentage of the world’s population. If long workouts aren’t enjoyable or feasible with your daily schedule, consider breaking up your day with quick workouts that only take seconds to do.
Previous Studies On Sitting And Exercise
The University of Texas (UT) at Austin conducted several studies in 2018. The studies measured how the effects of sitting all day influenced metabolic function. Healthy young people, who sat all day for the study, exhibited higher triglyceride levels than normal following a fatty meal the next day. Sitting down inhibited metabolism speed, leaving it unable to break up the fat. When the same young people broke up a full day of sitting with a one-hour run, they still experienced difficulties with fat metabolism the next day. The scientists who ran the study speculated that long hours of sitting changed physiologies, making them somewhat “resistant” to the beneficial metabolic effects of exercise.
The 4-Second Workout Study
A new study at UT at Austin found that short bouts of intense exercise counteract the harmful effects of sitting all day long. Sitting all day results in poor posture, slow metabolism, joint tightness, poor circulation, and an increased risk of metabolic disruptions or heart disease. These new micro workouts appear to offer more benefits than longer workouts, so long as they are done throughout the day.
The study examined eight healthy young men and women, who spent a full day sitting down in the lab. They only got up to use the bathroom. The volunteers ate high-fat breakfasts of ice cream and half and half the next morning. Scientists monitored their metabolic responses for the next six hours.
On another day, the same volunteers sat again. The only difference was that they sprinted for four seconds every hour. The sprints took place on an uncommon stationary bicycle in the UT physiology lab. Scientists in the lab determined that athletes require two seconds of pedaling to reach maximum exertion; regular people require four seconds. Based on this information, the scientists asked the volunteers to pedal at maximum exertion for four seconds, stop pedaling for 45 seconds, and then sprint again for four seconds. The volunteers repeated this sequence five times.
The Results Of The Study
The volunteers repeated the aforementioned interval sessions once every hour for eight hours. This amounted to three minutes and twenty seconds of exercise over an eight-hour period. They sat for the rest of the eight hours and ate an indulgent breakfast shake the next morning. Metabolic responses showed that blood triglyceride levels decreased by 30% and the body burned more fat in the following six hours.
Even though this was a small and short-term study, breaking up long periods of sitting with short, intense bursts of exercise proves to be beneficial. In fact, this may counteract the adverse effects of sitting all day. The study did not conclude whether or not these metabolic outcomes linger past the following day. Additionally, the stationary bike in the study is not your average stationary bike. An average spin-class bike may require more time to reach maximum exertion.
This study is appealing to many people who sit throughout the day. If you fall into this category, try to get up frequently to move about. If you can, engage in intense movements for as many seconds as you can each hour. Movements can include high knees, lunge jumps, squat jumps, or burpees, all of which elevate heart rate in a matter of seconds when done properly.