We also know that to avoid weight gain, we can burn off more calories by exercising. The belief that many of us have is that in order to burn more calories we have to spend super long hours in the gym. The little secret that many people don’t know is that this is not necessarily true.
Even very short bouts of higher-intensity physical activity—we’re talking brisk walking-level intensity here—can help keep you at a healthy weight, according to new research published in the journal The Science of Lifestyle Change.
For the study, researchers looked at data from the 2003-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, for which the Centers for Disease Control collected the weights, heights, and activity levels of a nationally representative sample of people. Researchers took 4,511 overweight and obese adults from the survey and split them into into four categories: those who did more than 10 minutes of higher-intensity physical activity (defined as anything at least as rigorous as brisk walking) at a time; those who did less than 10 minutes of higher-intensity physical activity at a time; those who did more than 10 minutes of lower-intensity physical activity at a time, and those who did less than 10 minutes of lower-intensity physical activity at a time.
Turns out, the shorter bouts of higher-intensity activity were about as effective at lowering participants’ BMIs (minute for minute) as the longer bouts of higher-intensity activity were. Both higher-intensity activity groups also showed a smaller risk of being overweight or obese. Lower-intensity activity, however, wasn’t associated with the same health perks.