If you're looking for an effective way to shed some pounds without having to spend hours of your day in the gym, you might want to try out interval training, an exercise regimen that combines short bursts of high-intensity activities with intervals of light activities.

A new study conducted by researchers in Canada suggests that an interval-based approach to exercising has the potential to provide the same health benefits as traditional methods of exercise but without having to spend too much time doing them.

Their findings showed that people who engaged in sprint interval workouts experienced the same level of health improvements as those who engaged in endurance training. These include improvements in their muscle functions, insulin sensitivity and the oxygen consumption of their bodies.

The research team's observations during their experiment are featured in the journal PLOS ONE.

Interval training isn't as complicated as it may seem. In fact, you can easily incorporate it in your daily exercise routine.

For example, if you prefer walking as your form of exercise, you can add short bursts of jogging in your regimen instead of just going on brisk walking. You can also alternate faster walking with periods of leisurely walking.

If you enjoy walking outdoors, you can use certain landmarks, such as trees, mailboxes or lampposts, as markers of when you could walk faster and when you could take things slowly.

Benefits Of Interval Training

Incorporating interval training to your regular workout routine can help boost the health benefits you'd normally experience from exercising, regardless if you're a novice or if you've been doing it for years. Here are some of the advantages you can get from doing interval training:

1. Burn more calories

It's no secret that the more you do vigorous workouts, the more you'll be able to burn calories. This also applies even if you only increase the intensity of your exercise even for short periods at a time.

2. Improve aerobic capacity

As your heart and lungs become more fit with exercise, the more you'll be able to engage in longer and higher intensity workouts. Soon you'll be able to complete your regular 60-minute walk in just 45 minutes. You'll also be able to burn more calories if you continue with the 60-minute.

3. Make exercise routines more enjoyable

If you're starting to get bored with the workout routine you've been doing in the past, you can try alternating it with short intervals of high-intensity training to make it more varied and more enjoyable.

4. No need for special equipment

You're simply introducing a higher intensity workout to your regimen without having to add any special equipment to do it.

Interval Training Risks

Despite its potential health benefits, interval training does have its fair share of risks, according to the Mayo Clinic.

People who suffer from chronic health problems or those who do not exercise regularly may want to consult their doctor first before engaging in any form of interval training. However, recent studies have suggested that doing interval-based workouts can benefit individuals with heart disease especially when conducted safely for short periods.

Doctors also advise those who want to try interval training to keep in mind that it could lead to overuse injury. Rushing to do a high-intensity workout without letting your body get used to it first could increase your risk of injuring your muscles, bones or tendons.

You can prevent this from happening by engaging in one or two high-intensity intervals during each of your exercise routines at first. You can also slow down your workout if you think that you're starting to overdo it. Once your stamina begins to improve, you can start to increase the intensity of your workout more.

Photo: Stewart Chambers | Flickr 

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