Interval training may help obese and overweight people slim down

The one-two punch of high-intensity exercise and healthful eating was helpful in getting overweight and obese people to slim down, a study finds.

The study, presented this week at the National Obesity Summit in Montreal, Canada, focused on data on 62 overweight and obese men and women involved in a nine-month program at the Montreal Heart Institute. The participants engaged in two to three weekly one-hour supervised exercise sessions and were instructed on how to follow a Mediterranean diet.

The exercise sessions concentrated on high-interval training, or alternating between short periods of vigorous workouts and rest periods. Interval training has been shown in some studies to promote weight loss as it boosts cardiovascular health. Participants had a five-minute warm-up followed by repeated bouts of exercise at 80% of peak effort. Those were interspersed with brief recovery periods, and the workout finished with a five-minute cool-down. In addition, the study subjects did a 20-minute weight training circuit and were encouraged to do one or two moderate 45-minute exercise sessions a week.

At the end of the study, the men and women on average lost 5.5% of their body mass, reduced waist circumference by 5.15% and increased cardiovascular capacity by 15%. They also had an average 7% decrease in LDL (bad) cholesterol and an 8% increase in HDL (good) cholesterol.

In the study the authors concluded that the supervised twice-weekly interval training program "appeared feasible, safe and time-efficient in this obese population."

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