The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - MCMASTER UNIVER­SITY

There are no more ex­cuses for be­ing out of shape. Re­searchers at McMaster Univer­sity have found that short, in­tense bursts of stair climb­ing, which can be done vir­tu­ally any­where, have ma­jor ben­e­fits for heart health.

The find­ings ne­gate the two most com­mon ex­cuses of couch pota­toes: no time and no ac­cess to the gym.

“Stair climb­ing is a form of ex­er­cise any­one can do in their own home, af­ter work or dur­ing the lunch hour,” says Mar­tin Gibala, a pro­fes­sor of ki­ne­si­ol­ogy at McMaster and lead au­thor on the study. “This re­search takes in­ter­val train­ing out of the lab and makes it ac­ces­si­ble to ev­ery­one.”

Pre­vi­ous stud­ies have proven the ben­e­fits of vig­or­ous stair climb­ing over sus­tained pe­ri­ods of time — up to 70 min­utes a week — but sci­en­tists set out to de­ter­mine if sprint in­ter­val train­ing (SIT), which in­volves brief bursts of vig­or­ous ex­er­cise sep­a­rated by short pe­ri­ods of re­cov­ery, was an ef­fec­tive and time­ef­fi­cient al­ter­na­tive for im­prov­ing car­diores­pi­ra­tory fit­ness.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors re­cruited 31 seden­tary but oth­er­wise healthy women and tested the ef­fect of two dif­fer­ent pro­to­cols, each of which re­quired a 10-minute time com­mit­ment.

The ex­er­cise ses­sions were con­ducted three times a week over six weeks.

The first pro­to­col in­volved three, 20-sec­ond bouts of con­tin­u­ous climb­ing in an ‘all-out’ man­ner. The re­sults were then com­pared and con­trasted to par­tic­i­pants who ran through the same pro­to­col us­ing an ex­er­cise bike, which has al­ready been shown to im­prove fit­ness.

For the sec­ond ex­per­i­ment, par­tic­i­pants vig­or­ously climbed up and down one flight of stairs for pe­ri­ods of 60 sec­onds, an ex­per­i­ment that could be eas­ily done at home.

Both pro­to­cols, each tak­ing 30 min­utes a week, in­creased car­diores­pi­ra­tory fit­ness, an im­por­tant healthy marker that is linked to longevity.

“In­ter­val train­ing of­fers a con­ve­nient way to fit ex­er­cise into your life, rather than hav­ing to struc­ture your life around ex­er­cise,” says Gibala, who has stud­ied high-in­ten­sity in­ter­val train­ing for more than a decade and re­cently wrote a book on its ef­fi­cacy en­ti­tled, “The One Minute Work­out.”

The find­ings are pub­lished in the jour­nal Medicine & Sci­ence in Sports & Ex­er­cise.


Mac re­searchers found sprint in­ter­val train­ing on stairs can boost car­diores­pi­ra­tory fit­ness.

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