High intensity training — calling all couch potatoes

Could lack of exercise be putting your health at risk? Is it hard to fit a traditional exercise regime into your busy week? Would just 15 minutes of high intensity exercise three times a week get us fit and improve our health?

Researchers are looking for sedentary volunteers to take part in a study into a time-efficient exercise tool called HIT — High Intensity Training. The training programme is part of Metapredict — a multi-disciplinary European health project — which ultimately aims to develop individualised life style strategies to help fight or prevent metabolic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Beth Phillips, a research associate in the Department of Metabolic and Molecular Physiology, said: “We will be looking for improvements in cardiovascular fitness and metabolic health status. Each volunteer will undergo health screening before they start and if selected have a HIT schedule devised so they work to just below their own maximum level of intensity. In other words, all our volunteers will work hard, but it will be as hard as they can work, not as hard as anyone can work.”

The University of Nottingham is one of six sites across Europe and Canada collaborating on this research project. As a result it is hoped that a large number of volunteers can be recruited so the evidence they gather will be compelling enough to change traditional views on the sort of exercise we need to take to keep fit and healthy.

Is 15 minutes 3 times a week enough?

Metapredict researchers are hoping to identify genetic markers for response to exercise training so they can identify what sort of exercise suits each one of us. One aim of the Metapredict programme is to show who HIT works best for and how it impacts on fitness and other important health parameters.

Beth Phillips said: “The hope is that we can show people don’t have to conform to the traditional guidelines of 60 minutes a day of moderate intensity exercise — which some people say they simply don’t have the time to do. If we can prove that seven minutes of high intensity exercise in a 15 minute session three times a week is enough then most people can fit that into their daily lives.”

The Nottingham research is being led by Dr Phil Atherton, Associate Professor in the School of Graduate Entry Medicine and Health in Derby and Professor Paul Greenhaff in the School of Biomedical Sciences in Nottingham.

Dr Atherton said: “This study represents another facet to The University of Nottingham’s rich tapestry of performing scientific, volunteer led, investigations involving humans. Generating an in-depth biological understanding of how exercise interventions can be used to improve metabolic health is an expertise of ours recognised the world over. The clinical contribution from The University of Nottingham — training 20 per cent of all the Metapredict cohort — is crucial for trialing the utility of HIT exercise on a large scale and for developing “predictors” of the health benefits of exercise, which in future could be used for assessing “health risk” and/or assigning personalised exercise and medication-based interventions.”

Volunteer criteria

Volunteers need to be between the ages of 18 and 50. The researchers want to hear from people with a body mass index of over 27, who lead a sedentary life style and can find time to do seven minute bursts of high intensity exercise in a 15 minute session, three times a week for a period of six weeks. The training sessions will be based at Nottingham.

Anyone interested in taking part in this research should contact Beth Phillips, beth.phillips@nottingham.ac.uk, or call 0115 823 0202.


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One Comment

July 1st, 2014 at 6:52 pm

Michael Goblirsch

Do you also have a cooperation with a research team based in Austria?

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