A new study published in Physiological Reports claims that gentle exercise routines can work just as well as rigorous workouts.
The study found that demanding exercise regimes provided no extra health benefits than gentle exercise, nor did they burn more fat for people trying to lose weight.
Researchers from the University of Bath examined how long people exercised for and at what intensity. As part of the study, 38 sedentary and overweight men and post-menopausal women with an average age of 52 were asked to exercise five times a week, for three weeks.
As well as exercise, participants were asked to cut the number of calories they consumed through food and drink.
Half the participants exercised vigorously on a treadmill, with the other half exercising at moderate-intensity.
Researchers monitored participants’ blood insulin levels and took biopsies of fat tissue at the start and end of the investigation. The results saw both groups report the same weight loss.
Improvements in insulin sensitivity and metabolic health were also recorded in both groups. Similar reductions were also recorded in fat mass, blood pressure and cholestoral.
There were also positive changes in the activation of genes within fat cells in both groups, highlighting the benefits within the fat tissue itself.
The study found that the vast amount of these changes were unaffected by the intensity of the exercise.
The author of the study, Dr Jean-Phillipe Walhin, said “Three weeks of increased exercise combined with a reduction in dietary intake had a dramatic impact on the overall health of the participants and on key genes within their fat tissue.”
“However, our data demonstrates that what really matters is how many calories were used up by exercising in total, not so much the intensity of the exercise sessions,” he added.
Dr James Betts, another of the researchers, said the study was one of the first to look at what happens within the tissue that responds most to the weight loss.
He added, “The benefits from increased exercise and a reduction in dietary intake were evident, but mostly independent of the intensity of the exercise.”
Source: Physiological Reports