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Couch Potatoes Take Note: If You Want To Stick To An Exercise Plan, Try High-Intensity Workouts

Last updated Jan. 4, 2017

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH

"Enjoyment during these first weeks of adopting a new exercise program may be especially important for preventing dropouts," says Heisz.

Having a hard time getting in shape? The key may lie in more intense, short bursts of exercise, according to new research from McMaster University.

A team of kinesiologists has found that high-intensity interval training (HIT) is more enjoyable than moderate exercise. It's the first study to examine changes in enjoyment for HIT workouts versus moderate continuous training, over the first six weeks of an exercise program.

"The physical benefits of exercise are widely known, yet half of the adult population is not sufficiently active for good health," explains Jennifer Heisz, as assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster and lead author of the study.

"For sedentary individuals, a key barrier to starting an exercise program is the preconceived notion that exercising is not enjoyable. Failing to find enjoyment from exercise can make it more difficult to stick to an exercise program over time," she says.

At the beginning of the training, sedentary young adults in the HIT group reported similar levels of enjoyment to those in the moderate exercise group. However, as training progressed and the participants got stronger, enjoyment for the HIT group increased. Levels for the moderate group remained constant and lower.

The findings are important, say researchers, because they suggest high-intensity workouts might help sedentary adults to stick to a workout routine.

"Enjoyment during these first weeks of adopting a new exercise program may be especially important for preventing dropouts," says Heisz.

The findings were published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Materials provided by McMaster UniversityNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

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Primary Resource:

Heisz, J. J., Tejada, M. G. M., Paolucci, E. M., & Muir, C. (2016). Enjoyment for High-Intensity Interval Exercise Increases during the First Six Weeks of Training: Implications for Promoting Exercise Adherence in Sedentary Adults. PloS one11(12), e0168534. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0168534

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Jan. 4, 2017
Last updated: Jan. 4, 2017