Have you found yourself saying that you’d like to do more sport but you can never find time to exercise with your busy schedule? In a recent study published in the American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology in September 2018, scientists suggested that a few minutes of high intensity sport was just as beneficial as less intense but longer periods of exercise. In fact in the two types of exercise our mitochondria undergo the same improvements.
The benefits of sport on our cells and mitochondria
Mitochondrion is a structure found in each of our cells which produces a great amount of energy. These mitochondria are very important for our health. Previous studies have proven that exercise can increase the number of mitochondria in our cells while also improving the capacity of cells already present in the body. In general, practicing sport is just as good for our brain as for our body. One session of physical activity is enough to have beneficial effects on our cells, by making them more resistant to chronic diseases.
The team of researchers analysed the efforts of eight young adult volunteers while they did cycle training at varying levels of intensity. There was three different types of exercise. The first which was relatively moderate involved the volunteer cycling for 30 minutes while releasing 50% of their physical capacity. The second exercise involved intensity intervals. The volunteer carried out 5 sessions of 4 minutes in which they used 75% of their maximum effort with 1 minute of rest between each session. The third type of exercise was composed of 4 sessions of 30 second sprints with the volunteer giving their maximum effort. Each sprint was separated by 4 minutes and 30 seconds of rest.
During the sessions of the volunteers, the researchers measured the amount of energy produced by comparing the mitochondrial changes which could take place before and after these tests.
What did the result reveal about exercising
Researchers discovered that hydrogen peroxide levels increased in the different sections of the the mitochondria. Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is a molecule involved in cellular signaling. Containing both oxygen and water as can be seen in it’s formula, the molecule also consists of oxygenated water. The increase in hydrogen peroxide therefore improves cellular responses beneficial for metabolism but without damaging the cell. It’s true that too much hydrogen peroxide can damage cells.
Scientists noted that intense and short forms of exercise could produce similar mitochondrial response to a more moderate but longer form of physical activity. What’s more, researchers added to their study that:
“Only a total of 2 minutes of exercise but broken up into sprinting intervals produced similar responses to 30 minutes of moderately intense but continuous aerobatic exercise.” They suggested that, “Exercise can be completed according to each persons preferences while generating similar signals known to have beneficial metabolic adaptations. These findings have important implications for improving our understanding of how exercise improves metabolic health in the general population.”
This study is good news for those of us who stop ourselves from starting a sport because of time constraints. Ask yourself, do you want to exercise or is it the fact you can’t be bothered which stops you from exercising…
Do you only have 5 minutes to do a little bit a sport? Go flat-out and give everything you have got!