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Do longer training sessions mean more reduction of weight?

Do you think that more training means more reduction of weight? This is not necessarely true. According to recent research it turns out that moderately overweighted persons do not lose more weight by doubling their amount of training. The best way of reducing weight through training is to perform frequent, but short, sessions, and by that avoiding to stay inactive for too long periods during the day.

If you wish to stay more active during the day, why not buy yourself an activity device/running watch, that will “watch you” and give you messages if you become too passive during the day.

What does the research say?

Back to the research. It turns out that moderately overweighted persons does not have a higher reduction of weight by training 60 minutes than by training 30 minutes some times per week. This may sound strange, because the longer time you are training, the more energy you are consuming, which should lead to more reduction of weight. This should logically be an easy calculation. However, a recent Danish research project have found that several other factors than training time are playing important roles for reduction of weight. Actually, the research results demonstrate that the same reduction of weight is achieved by training 30 minutes each sessions as when training 60 minutes per session. When having shorter sessions, people have more energy to be active the rest of the day, says Anne Sofie Gram at the Biomedical Institute at Copenhagen University. This results in more reduction of weight over long time.

The group of researchers worked with 61 moderately overweighted men. These men were not used to training, but except from that they were in a healthy condition. They were divided into 3 groups.

  • The first group was told that they should train 60 minutes every day in a gym.
  • The second group was told to do the same, but only 30 minutes every time.
  • The third group should not change anything in their lifestyle, and was used as a control group.

During the time of the project, the participants’ weight, blood sugar level and metabolism (energy burning) were frequently measured. After 13 weeks the researchers were able to conclude that both the first and second group had significantly improved their health and fitness level in general. The participants in both groups had lost the same amount of weight. At the same time it was checked and verified that none of the participants had changed their food habits during the course.

Less training gives more energy

The researchers interviewed participants from the different groups during these 13 weeks, about their experience from the training, how much energy they felt they had, and to which degree they experienced the training as positive.

The interviews revealed that the participants from the group that was training 30 minutes per day, experienced to have more energy than those who trained for 60 minutes. According to Anne Sofie Gram, this is the core of the reason for the results of the research. Those who trained 60 minutes went home being exhausted and ended up in the sofa the rest of the day. The other group were more happy and filled with energy after the training, and had enough energy left to be able to be active the rest of the day.

Increased motivation by shorter sessions

Fitness levelThe interviews revealed that the 60 minute group experienced the training to be more monotonous, exhausting and boring, than the other group. Participants from the 30 minutes group felt a higher degree of motivation and positivity. The short physical session gave the participants a higher sense of mastering the new training. Within this group, bicycling to work and/or using the stairs at work, and other important daily physical activites, became more common as well.

The results indicate that people can achieve better results and become more motivated to live healthy, if they don’t push themselves too hard during training.

60 minutes training can be an extreme load

The results do not surprise Lars Bo Andersen, professor at the Institute for Sports and Biomechanics at The South Danish University. He is a researcher himself within public health issues. It is quite obvious that it can be extremely tough for totally untrained persons to train for 60 minutes.

One shall always start slow and carefully, for example by 30 minutes sessions only. Do not increase before after 2-3 months. This ensures that your body gets adapted to the load and becomes ready for progression. Then, when you start to become well trained, a 60 minutes session will give a higher weight reduction than a shorter session. This is by the first look logical for everybody, but as the results of the research project demonstrated, it is different if you are an untrained person and ends up being inactive outside the training sessions.

An enormous potential for prevention

In the opinion of Anne Sofie Gram, the research is interesting in a broader perspective. There is a big potential when it comes to public health. If you want to motivate a population for a more healthy lifestyle, less can sometimes result in more, says Gram.

Around 40% of the Danish population is moderately overweighted, which may lead to lifestyle related diseases. According to Gram, many of those who currently have a moderate overweight, will develop a higher degree of overweight during the upcoming years. This will for many lead to a whole range of lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes, heart/cardio diseases, different forms of cancer, and they also have a higher risk of developing depressions.

Source: Scandinavian Journal of Public Health

Read more details about physical training in these articles:

Author: Ingrid Kristiansen

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