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Brief Bouts of Vigorous Exercise Associated With Improved Cardiorespiratory Fitness

Previous studies have found that low cardiorespiratory fitness is associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease. A new study suggests that brief bouts of vigorous exercise, known as exercise snacks, may improve cardiorespiratory fitness in sedentary adults.


Participants in the study included 24 young sedentary adults who performed less than 1 hour of physical activity per week. Participants were assigned to one of two groups. The first group vigorously climbed a three-story stairwell 3 times per day, separated by 1 to 4 hours of recovery time. They performed this exercise series 3 times each week for 6 weeks. The second group acted as a control and did not perform any exercise. The researchers measured peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak) and peak power output (Wpeak) at baseline and after six weeks.


VO2peak was similar in both groups at baseline – 1834 in the exercise group and 1843 in the control group. After the intervention, it increased by 5% to 1918 in the exercise group, and decreased in the control group to 1740. Baseline Wpeak was also similar in both groups – 161 in the exercise group and 163 in the control group. The exercise group saw a 12% increase to 178, compared to 154 in the control group.


The exercise group was also stronger at the end of the study compared to the control group and generated more power during a maximal cycling test.


Researchers from the McMaster University and the University of British Columbia conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print January 16, 2019, in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism.

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