Steady, moderate exercise may burn more calories
Pakistan Online News

ISLAMABAD: While health experts continually drive home the idea that regular, moderate exercise is the best way for the average person to stay fit, some couch potatoes may cling to the idea that an occasional burst of activity is just as good. Not so, according to results of a new study.

People who exercise intensely for a short time seem to compensate for this flurry of activity with more couch time, researcher Klaas R. Westerterp report in the March issue of Nature.

Westerterp, of Maastricht University in the Netherlands, followed 16 men and 14 women over a 2-week period. Using a portable motion sensor that participants strapped on, the researcher was able to record their body movements minute-by-minute. He used this data, along with the participants’ reports, to estimate their overall activity levels.

Westerterp found that those who engaged in moderate exercise such as walking and biking had the highest overall physical activity levels. Those who preferred short bouts of intense activity had lower overall activity levels--largely, according to Westerterp, because they spent a greater portion of the day being inactive.

People who want to burn more calories, he suggests, should exchange their TV time for moderate activities like walking. Such exercise, he notes, is more palatable for most people--especially older adults and obese individuals.

Current recommendations for healthy adults call for 30 minutes of moderate activity on most days of the week. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, moderate activity includes walking two miles or biking about five miles in a half-hour. Thirty minutes of gardening or raking leaves are some other ways to meet the exercise goal.