WASHINGTON: According to research, a small amount of daily activity is more beneficial than long bouts of exercise spread out over the week, and you don’t have to put in a mountain of work every day.
It’s a dilemma faced by many health-conscious people and new research from Edith Cowan University (ECU) answers the question. This latest research indicates that a bit of daily activity may well be the most beneficial approach, at least for muscle strength.
And luckily, it also suggests that you don’t have to do a mountain of work every day. In collaboration with Niigata University and Nishi Kyushu University in Japan, the four-week training study included three groups of participants performing arm resistance exercise and changes in muscle strength and muscle thickness were measured and compared.
The exercise consisted of “maximum voluntary eccentric biceps contractions” performed on a machine that measures muscle strength in each muscle contraction that you would do in the gym. An eccentric contraction occurs when the muscle lengthens; in this case, like lowering a heavy barbell into a bicep curl.
Two groups performed 30 contractions a week, with one group doing six contractions a day for five days a week (6×5 group), while the other crammed all 30 into a single day, once a week (30×1 group). Another group performed only six contractions one day a week.
After four weeks, the group performing 30 contractions in a single day showed no increase in muscle strength, although muscle thickness (an indicator of increased muscle size) increased by 5.8%. . The group doing six contractions once a week showed no change in muscle strength and muscle thickness.
However, the 6×5 group saw a significant increase in muscle strength – over 10% – with a similar increase in muscle thickness as the 30×1 group.