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The truth about 'Horizon - The Truth about Exercise'

posted 29 Feb 2012, 13:45 by Debbie Walker
(c) BBC 2012
Horizon last night reported new research that suggests that only 3 minutes of high intensity exercise a week can improve your fitness. 
It is said to change insulin sensitivity, which removes sugar from the blood and controls fat. It also ‘should’ improve aerobic fitness, increasing the amount of oxygen your lungs can get into your body.
However they showed that genetics also have a role to play in this. There are some people that are going to see improvements from this short sharp shock form of exercise, whereas others won’t see any change at all. This means that through a genetic test it can be predicted who will or won’t respond, but this genetic test is NOT available, and even if it were imagine what your insurance company would say if you had the ‘fat’ gene and not the ‘Exercise’ gene. 

Perhaps the key piece of information in the program is the simple yet obvious fact that so much more can be achieved by simply
increasing everyday activity.  Hard to believe but something I’ve been teaching for a while, is that more is better and hard is now always best! They showed that there is a lot to be seen from just staying off your bottom and keeping moving all day, the key is to move every hour, walk, walk and walk. Just moving can burn loads of calories, just by sitting less and moving more they showed how the presenter used an extra 500 calories, that the same as 90 minutes jogging or almost two hours on the cross trainer! If you have a sedentary life then hit the gym for an hour you’ll burn less calories than someone who keeps on their feet all day and has never seen the inside of a gym or been jogging. Fit healthy people simply don’t say still

What do I think? 

Whilst the show had universities falling over themselves to suggest that very small amounts of High Intensity Training (HIT) and regular movement or Non Exercise Physical Activity (NEPA) can significantly increase your fitness .. there are questions to be asked !

Does explosive ‘Max Effort’ Exercise put you at risk?  if you’re not already very fit, the strain on your cardiovascular system should not be under estimated,  that's why so may people have heart attacks during explosive exercise such as squash. 

Do you have access to the equipment to do the ‘Max Effort’ workout? If so, is it something that people will keep up? Are the benefits short term or can they be sustained? 

Regarding NEPA, we sit for a reason  .. many of us earn our livelyhood thanks to a desk .. it's hard to answer emails or to write a report on the move. 

How many of us could double or triple the amount of movement we do each and every day? We absolutely should walk/cycle/run to work if we can .. or get off the bus 2 stops early. We should avoid lifts and use the stairs where we can and we must get out of the habit of using the car when we can get there using human power .. but it’s a very big ask to deliver the type of increase in movement needed to replace balanced & structured exercise. 

As with most things in life, if something sounds too good to be true, it portably is! Yet, there are some key things we can all draw from this most challenging and stimulating show. 

Watch on iPlayer © BBC 2012 (click here) and post your comments on my Facebook page here