Leeds team to test healthy heart training methods
Are people more likely to do exercise if it is in shorter bursts rather than a long continuous period of activity?
That’s what a team from the University of Leeds will be trying to find out in a new research project backed by a grant of £60,140 from Heart Research UK.
The research will aim to find out if there is a more effective way for people to exercise to improve their health that is both enjoyable and easier to fit into their lifestyles.
The team will look at whether Interval Training, in which short bursts of exercise (between 30 seconds and four minutes in duration) are combined with periods of recovery, is a preferable way of exercising and easier to stick to. If this is the case then more people may become active and thus improve the health of their heart.
Currently fewer than five per cent of the population achieve the Government’s recommended 150 minutes of moderate–intensity physical activity per week to prevent heart disease and strokes.
In laboratory-based studies Interval Training has already been shown to effectively reduce some of the ‘markers’ which predict the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
The team from the School of Biomedical Sciences based in the Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Leeds will be comparing two types of Interval Training, comprising either short or long bursts of fast walking, with standard continuous moderate-intensity exercise, with the aim of finding out whether people prefer to exercise intermittently and whether they are more likely to continue with this type of training at home.
If the results are positive it may result in changes to the Government’s physical activity recommendations, with the aim of getting more people taking part in meaningful exercise and helping to reduce the number of those affected by cardiovascular disease.
Dr Carrie Ferguson, who is leading the research, says the work will include a 12-week home-based training programme for three groups of 25 people to compare their responses to different types of activity. Carrie said: “The question is whether people prefer Interval Training in short or long intense bursts compared with traditional continuous moderate-intensity exercise for longer periods.”
“We’ll be measuring their response to these different types of exercise to see how beneficial it is as well as asking them which they are more likely to adhere to.”
Being physically active is one of the most effective and inexpensive ways of reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, and slowing the progression of the disease. Many people say they don’t do enough and this is because they do not have enough time and that they find the exercise boring.
The team will also look at whether fast walking is of a high enough intensity to reduce risk makers for cardiovascular disease during home-based interval exercise.
The volunteers taking part in the study have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease in the future. In the first part of the study they will exercise in the laboratory on separate days in short-duration Interval Training, long-duration Interval Training and standard continuous exercise.
After these sessions, participants will be interviewed about their personal feelings about the different training regimes. They will then be randomly allocated to a training group and asked to follow one of the three exercise regimes unsupervised at home for 12 weeks and keep an exercise diary of the training completed.
These results will allow Dr Ferguson’s team to find out if Interval Training effectively reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease; whether this is a preferable way of exercising compared with current government guidelines and will answer the key question about whether or not participants continue with interval training unsupervised at home.
Barbara Harpham, National Director of Heart Research UK, said: “Those who do exercise and eat healthily have a better chance of improving their heart health and living happier, healthier and longer lives. People need to be happy and comfortable with how they are exercising but be assured that how they choose to do it, over time or in short bursts, is effective. This project will help to find activities that are better for you and easier to fit into your lifestyle.”
You can also follow Heart Research UK on Twitter: @heartresearchuk or become a fan of our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Heart-Research-UK/10733061906