Clincal Abstacts

With Comments by Adriane Fugh-Berman, MD

Short vs. Long Stints of Exercise

February 2000; Volume 2: 16

Source: Jakicic JM, et al. Effects of intermittent exercise and use of home exercise equipment on adherence, weight loss, and fitness and overweight women. JAMA 1999;282:1554-1560.

Design and Setting: Eighteen month-long randomized three-armed trial.

Subjects: 148 sedentary, overweight women 25-45 years old enrolled in the university-based weight control program.

Treatment: One of the following: long-bout exercise (LB) (five days a week, starting at 20 minutes per day and working up to 40 minutes per day in one session); multiple short-bout exercise (SB) (five days a week starting with 20 minutes a day and working up to 40 minutes per day in multiple 10-minute bouts); or multiple short-bout exercise with home exercise equipment (SBEQ) (identical to the SB group except for the provision of a motorized treadmill to use at home).

Outcome Measures: Body weight, body composition, cardiorespiratory fitness, and exercise adherence.

Results: Mean weight loss was significantly greater in subjects in the SBEQ group compared with subjects in the SB group. Mean weight loss for subjects in the LB group was similar to subjects in the other two groups. All groups showed increased cardiovascular fitness, with no significant differences between groups. Subjects in the SBEQ group maintained a higher level of exercise than subjects in either of the other two groups. Those exercising more than 200 minutes weekly lost significantly more weight than those who spent less time exercising.

Funding: FIRST award to Dr Jakicic (HL56127) and grant DK46204 to support the obesity/nutrition research center at the University of Pittsburgh.

Comments: This study found that in overweight women, short bouts of exercise were as beneficial as long bouts of exercise for cardiorespiratory fitness and weight loss. Ten minutes of exercising at a time may be less daunting than 40 minutes at a time; I would think that for others scheduling four separate times a day to exercise would simply be annoying. But it’s great to have options to present to our patients. It’s very interesting that the availability of a home treadmill enhanced long-term adherence in this population.