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Less than 3 minutes of hard exercise burns calories all day

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Just 2.5 minutes of intense exercise can burn calories all day

It might be possible to lose weight - or at least prevent slow weight gain - by performing intense exercise for 2.5 minute a day. Researchers have found short bursts of hard exercise, combined with longer periods of easy recovery, can burn up to 200 extra calories a day, making exercise more manageable for busy people.

Researchers at Colorado State University, University of Colorado Anschultz Medica discovered it’s possible to burn more calories with sprint interval exercises.

Short session of intense exercise burns 200 extra calories

When you combine intense; short bursts of exercise with a single work out session, the result could add up to more calories burned and more weight lost, based on the finding.

Sprint interval training is known to increase endurance and athletic performance. Until now, little was known about how the type of exercise affects energy expenditure.

Study leader Kyle Sevits points out in a press release that few people get 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week that is recommended by the U.S. Government.

"The biggest factor people quote is that they don't have the time to fit in exercise. We hope if exercise can be fit into a smaller period of time, then they may give exercise a go and stick with it”, Sevits said.

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How the study was done

For the study, researchers measured calorie expenditure among 5 healthy adult males who were also given a balanced diet 3 days before and during the study period.

For 2 days the men stayed in a hospital type room performing sedentary activities like watching movies and using a computer. The room was equipped with oxygen, carbon dioxide, and water content analyzers that allowed the researchers to determine how many calories the volunteers burned while they stayed in the room.

On one of the days the men rode a stationary bike, performing 5 series of 30-second, and maximum intensity sprints at high resistance with 4 minute rests in between with very little resistance.

The findings showed the men burned an extra 200 calories on the days they engaged in sprint interval exercise with just 2.5 minutes of hard exercise.

If you’re having trouble finding time to exercise long enough to burn calories and lose weight, it might be worth trying 2.5 minutes of intense exercise the next time you’re at the gym, swimming or biking.

"Burning an extra 200 calories from these exercises a couple of times a week can help keep away that pound or two that many Americans gain each year," Sevits says.

American Physiological Society
October 10, 2012

Updated January 12, 2014