The technique is called sprint-interval training, and is used by many athletes to improve performance. It stands to reason that the strategy would be useful for weight maintenance, and now gives many no excuse not to lose weight with their workout endeavors.
"The harder you work, the more calories you will burn per minute," said study leader Kyle Sevits, a researcher at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.
Sevits took healthy men of normal weight with an average age of 28 years, and asked them to ride an exercise bike as hard as they could fives times for 30 seconds in between free peddling on the stationary. The workout took 25 minutes in total.
Sevits compared the totals and found those men burned more calories than those in a more traditional workout that lasted up to twice as long.
Findings were presented at an exercise conference in Colorado that was sponsored by the American Physiological Society, American College of Sports Medicine and the Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology.
"This study provides some interesting preliminary data showing that sprint-interval training can increase 24-hour energy expenditure," said Dr. Stuart Gray, a lecturer in exercise physiology at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. Gray was not involved in the study.
The participants of the test group did not appear to have a higher consumption of food than those who partake in more regular workout regimens.
However, "this kind of exercise is very intense and may not suit all," he cautioned. "My advice would be to not simply focus on one form of exercise but try to increase activity and reduce consumption wherever and whenever you can."
Still, the sprint technique ''is a useful option if time is a limiting factor," he said.
Sevits focused on the practical aspects of the research. "Many people gain a couple of pounds a year," he said, adding that demanding work schedules and family duties can limit exercise time. "A time-sensitive exercise that will help them burn some calories and keep them fit may help ward off those extra couple of pounds."
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