Having breaks during exercise makes you fitter, faster

Working rest periods into exercise sessions can make you fitter more quickly

Sports scientists at Stirling University have found taking short rest periods during exercise sessions can help you get fitter, faster.

The researchers studied keen cyclists, splitting 12 into two groups. One group did bursts of high intensity exercise with short rest periods three times a week.

In each session they pedalled hard for four minutes then stopped for two, before repeating this five times.

The other group rode continously for an hour at a slightly slower pace, also for three times a week.

After four weeks the two groups swopped programmes, with tests showing the first programme was the most beneficial.

Stuart Galloway, an exercise physiologist who worked on the study, said: ‘It is a case of training smarter.

‘We found in these cyclists that if you can make the hard sessions harder and the easy sessions easier, then you will likely see better progress.

‘Amateur athletes tend to spend a lot of their training in the moderate intensity bracket which in our study showed smaller improvements.

‘For the wider public, most people were advised to do moderate intensity exercise for around three hours a week.

‘More recently, high-intensity bouts of exercise such as spin cycling classes or interval running have been presented as the best option.

‘We would suggest that while high intensity is still important, it’s the combination with low intensity which has the biggest impact.’

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