Would you excercise more if it took less time and was fun?

According to the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, to achieve health benefits, adults aged 18 to 64 should accumulate at least 150 minutes of aerobic physical activity per week.

According to the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, to achieve health benefits, adults aged 18 to 64 should accumulate at least 150 minutes of aerobic physical activity per week.

But is there a way for the average adult to achieve the same health benefits in less time while increasing their enjoyment of exercise?

This is the question UBC student Demian Carson will be exploring this summer at UBC’s Okanagan campus.  A fourth-year human kinetics major, Carson has received an Undergraduate Research Award of nearly $5,000 from the Canadian Institute of Health Research to find out if high-intensity interval training is an attractive alternative to continuous aerobic exercise for promoting exercise among the average adult.

“The research will assess the affective response and perceived enjoyment to various modalities of exercise,” says Carson, who will be conducting the research under the direction of Mary Jung, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Health and Social Development. “One avenue that has yet to be explored is how tolerable high-intensity interval training is for sedentary people to partake in — so we’re very excited to be one of the first to examine this. Basically, we want to know if people like it and will people do it?”

High-intensity interval training is often used by athletes. It is an exercise strategy that combines short, high-intensity bursts of speed, with slower recovery phases throughout a single shortened workout.

Carson notes that one of the main reasons adults give for not exercising is lack of time and enjoyment. As a former Nordic combined coach, Carson has spent a lot of time motivating athletes to achieve peak personal fitness. However, he says motivating the general population is a whole different ball game.

“I am interested to find out how enjoyable and effective this training is for the average adult who doesn’t have a lot of time, or perhaps even motivation, to exercise,” he says.

Carson’s hope is the research may help exercise physiologists compare various exercise strategies and potentially offer a new way to use high-intensity interval training to promote fitness and motivate people to exercise, ultimately increasing the overall health of adults.

“I am very excited to have Demian begin working with me as an undergraduate research assistant,” says Jung.  “The CIHR award will permit Demian to work full-time in my laboratory, and he will be a great asset to the team.”