Regular, Short Bursts of Intensive Exercise Improves Teen Health

Jim Liebelt | Senior Editor of Publications for HomeWord | Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Regular, Short Bursts of Intensive Exercise Improves Teen Health

*The following is excerpted from an online article from Medical News Today.

Health experts advise that children and teenagers should do at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day. This can accumulate over the day - for example cycling to school, walking or running around during the recess, and doing sports and gymnastics. Now, a new study of teenagers shows that the intensity of short bursts of activity makes a difference to health outcomes.

Researchers at the University of Exeter in the UK concluded that when adolescents accumulate exercise over the day, short bouts of intense activity have a more beneficial effect on health than shorts bouts of less intense activity.

Reporting in the journal Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental, they show how as little 2 minutes of high-intensity exercise four times a day had a more beneficial effect on blood sugar levels, fat metabolism and blood pressure - measured after eating a fatty meal - than the same amount of moderate intensity exercise.

Senior author Dr. Alan Barker, a lecturer in pediatric exercise and health at Exeter, says: "Children and adolescents tend to perform brief bouts of exercise. This study shows that the intensity of this pattern of exercise is important, with high-intensity providing superior health benefits than moderate-intensity exercise."

For the study, the team examined 19 teenagers' blood sugar, systolic blood pressure and fat oxidation at regular intervals over 3 days, during which the youngsters consumed a high fat milkshake for breakfast and lunch. The participants were 9 male and 10 female 13-year-olds.

During the 3 days, the participants completed three different exercise patterns in random order: rest, four bouts of high-intensity, and four bouts of moderate intensity exercise performed on exercise bikes. On exercise days, the bouts were done 2 hours apart.

During the bouts of exercise, the participants performed the same amount of work - so the researchers could examine the effect of intensity alone.

The authors found that neither type of exercise changed levels of excess fat in the blood. However, brief bouts of high-intensity exercise - but not moderate-intensity exercise - reduced blood sugar and systolic blood pressure, and increased fat metabolism in the teen boys and girls.

Source: Medical News Today