New research states that daily exercise is more beneficial than heavy irregular workouts
The group in the study which performed daily exercise saw a significant increase in muscle strength with an increase in muscle thickness
Although exercise is important, is it better to do a little every day, or a lot a few times a week? A new research conducted by Ken Nosaka, exercise and sports science professor from Edith Cowan University (ECU) in Australia, indicates that a little bit of daily activity could be more beneficial than heavy irregular workouts, at least for muscle strength. The study also suggests that manageable amounts of exercise done regularly can have a real effect on people's strength.
“People think they have to do a longer session of resistance training in the gym, but that's not the case. Just lowering a heavy dumbbell slowly once or six times a day is enough (sic).” Ken was quoted as saying.
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The team from ECU collaborated with Niigata University and Nishi Kyushu University in Japan for a four-week training study where three groups of participants performed an arm resistance exercise and changes in muscle strength. Their muscle thickness was measured and compared. The exercises consisted of ‘maximal voluntary eccentric bicep contractions’ performed on a machine which measured their muscle strength in each muscle contraction as one would do at the gym. An eccentric contraction is when the muscle is lengthening; in this case, like lowering a heavy dumbbell in a bicep curl. The findings of the research were published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports.
During the study, two groups performed 30 contractions per week, with one group doing six contractions a day for five days a week (6x5 group), while the other crammed all 30 into a single day, once a week (30x1 group). Another group only performed six contractions a day in a week.
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After four weeks, the group doing 30 contractions in a single day did not show any increase in muscle strength, although their muscle thickness (an indicator of an increase in muscle size) increased by 5.8 per cent. The group doing six contractions once a week did not show any changes in muscle strength and muscle thickness. However, the 6x5 group saw significant increases in muscle strength - more than 10 per cent - with an increase in muscle thickness similar to the 30x1 group.
“Muscle strength is important to our health. This could help prevent a decrease in muscle mass and strength with ageing. A decrease in muscle mass is a cause of many chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, some cancers, dementia, plus musculoskeletal problems such as osteoporosis (sic),” Ken said in the paper.
Ken also added that there needs to be more emphasis on the importance of making exercise a daily activity, rather than hitting a weekly minute goal. “If you're just going to the gym once a week, it's not as effective as doing a bit of exercise every day at home. This research, together with our previous study, suggests the importance of accumulating a small amount of exercise a week, than just spending hours exercising once a week (sic),” he noted.