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Don’t work out, “SIT” instead

Everyone goes to the gym with hopes of getting fit fast.

However, after attending a workout session, one might become deeply disappointed if he or she has not dropped weight overnight. If only losing weight was as easy as gaining it!

However, a new study suggests that losing weight and getting fit might be easier than before.

Scientists at Liverpool John Moores University and the University of Birmingham have developed two exercise routines they believe will give participants the same workout results in a fraction of the recommended time.

Through these workouts, the suggested three to five hours of weekly exercise has decreased to a mere 90 minutes, according to the study published in the Feb. 1 issue of The Journal of Physiology. Even with the time cut, researchers claim participants will receive both the same health and weight-loss benefits.

In the study, LJMU researchers Matthew Cocks and Sam Shepherd described two primary workout routines: the High intensity Interval Training program, and the Sprint Interval Training program, also known as “HIT” and “SIT.”

Over the course of the six-week experiment, Cocks and Shepherd may have revolutionized the way society will exercise.

 

Why did they conduct the study?

Shepherd said people’s busy schedules prompted research into exercises like HIT and SIT.

“The number one reason people give for not engaging in regular activity is a lack of time,” Shepherd said.  “So there is a need to establish a way of exercising that increases engagement in regular exercise, and we believe HIT may be able to do this.”

According to the Livestrong website, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends the average person to engage in more than 150 minutes of exercise per week with an additional two days of muscle-strengthening activity. That breaks down to roughly 30 minutes a day for five days.

With about 47 percent of Americans holding full-time jobs, according to a Business Insider report, it seems that few people have 150 minutes to spare for this recommended amount of physical activity.

However, Cocks and Shepherd said they have eliminated the issue of time. With their exercises, people can achieve the same results in just 90 minutes of cardio per week. Instead of exercising for 30 minutes over the course of five days, people can exercise for roughly 30 minutes over the course of three days.

Patricia Fortin, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences said the SIT and HIT exercises could be helpful for time-consumed people.

“[Exercises such as this] would catch on,” Fortin said. “I just think they would be good for people who don’t have a lot of time to go to the gym.”

 

The importance of exercising

Why is working out even important? Many risk factors are associated with not exercising.

According to Livestrong, the major consequences of not exercising include conditions such as diabetes, sleep apnea, asthma and types of cancer.

Physical activity is linked with increased psychological health. According to Livestrong, exercise releases mood-enhancing chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins and regular physical activity relieve depression and anxiety while enhancing one’s ability to concentrate and focus.

Individuals who are inactive are more likely to suffer from adverse psychological health effects than those who exercise regularly. This is another reason why Shepherd and Cocks said they developed the SIT and HIT programs.

 

The components of the study 

Cocks and Shepherd’s study tested both males and females — of both lean and obese statures — between the ages of 20 and 60 years. Specifically in the SIT study, 16 young males who only exercised for about one hour per week were divided into two groups: the SIT group and the Endurance Training group. Once dispersed, they underwent pre-program physical tests. After six weeks, the results were calculated.

In both groups, heart rates and blood pressures decreased. Additional data, according to Shepherd, proved just how effective these workouts were.

“The results were as we expected, in so much as we expected HIT and SIT to have a positive effect on fat metabolism, vascular health and insulin sensitivity,” Shepherd said.

“What was most surprising was that HIT and SIT enhanced muscle fat metabolism similarly to more traditional endurance training, and that the effect on some of the vascular adaptations were even greater with SIT and HIT.”

 

What are the SIT and HIT workouts?

Shepherd said the SIT workout consisted of a 30-second sprint on a laboratory bicycle, followed by 4.5 minutes of low-intensity cycling. Participants repeated this cycle between four and six times, concluding the single session of exercise. In total, participants only performed high intensity exercise for two-to-three minutes per session.

Shepherd said almost anyone could engage in the SIT exercise: men or women, lean or obese and people between the ages of 20 and 60.  Although the SIT program is easy and safe for anyone to do, Shepherd said people should not engage in the HIT program until researchers make it completely suitable for public use.

“It is important to note that the form of HIT we used in this study is very extreme, and may not be suitable for the general population,” Shepherd said.  “We are currently investigating more practical forms of HIT and how these can be used in the real world.”

 

Student reactions

Casey Cirillo, a freshman in CAS, said exercises like HIT and SIT would fit conveniently into her schedule.

“Though I like the classes that they offer [at Boston University], it would be nice to be able to get in a good workout in just an hour,” Cirillo said.

Some students are more skeptical of this study.

“I don’t think that [the results] necessarily aren’t true, but I don’t really think a quick fix will work,” said Brittany Comak, a freshman in the College of Communication.

“It’s enticing to some people, but for me, I just want to build up an endurance. I don’t want to go to the gym for 90 minutes and feel like I’m done for the week.”

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