Add intervals to torch calories in less time

By Shayna Brouker • Published: January 11th, 2013
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Tapped for time but want to get a good sweat in and burn calories? Don’t cancel your date with the gym — you can, in fact, fit in a workout and still have time to create a healthy homemade dinner. The solution is interval training, or short bursts of intense energy added in to a cardio workout. Research from Colorado State University is the latest to support this speedy workout style as the most efficient and effective way to sweat.

All it takes is two-and-a-half minutes. Divided into 30-second intervals with four minutes of light pedaling or running, a 25-minute workout can torch more than 220 calories — the same amount that more than 30 minutes of moderate cycling or running would yield. What’s more, interval training can increase insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance, which are important for overall good health.

Interval training has also been touted as an especially effective heart-healthy habit. And of course, it’s a great way to shed pounds. Some studies have shown it releases a torrent of hormones that cause your body to burn more calories throughout the day, even just sitting at your desk. Intervals are effective because making your muscles switch into high gear makes them work that much harder to process oxygen, calling other chemicals to help them rise to the occasion.

In fact, a study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that women who ran hard for two minutes followed by three minutes at a low intensity lost 4 percent of their body fat — compared with zero in those who ran slow and steady.

Intervals can be intimidating, but if you can commit to giving it your all for 30 seconds at a time, you’ll reap the benefits. Start out slow on low-impact cardio equipment, like a bike, and gradually build from there. Your physique and your schedule will thank you.