While many of us wonder just how much exercise we really need in order to gain health and fitness, a group of scientists in Canada are turning that issue on its head and asking, how little exercise do we need?
The emerging and engaging answer appears to be, a lot less than most of us think — provided we’re willing to work a bit.
In proof of that idea, researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, recently gathered several groups of volunteers. One consisted of sedentary but generally healthy middle-aged men and women. Another was composed of middle-aged and older patients who’d been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease.
The researchers tested each volunteer’s maximum heart rate and peak power output on a stationary bicycle. In both groups, the peaks were not, frankly, very high; all of the volunteers were out of shape and, in the case of the cardiac patients, unwell. But they gamely agreed to undertake a newly devised program of cycling intervals.