10/12/2012 12:00 EDT | Updated 12/13/2012 02:11 EST

Short Exercise: Study Finds 2.5 Minutes Exercising Can Burn Crazy Calories


It's the news you've been waiting for your whole life — you only need a few minutes a day of exercise to burn a whole lot of calories.

According to a study by researchers at Colorado State University and University of Colorado Anschultz Medical Campus, utilizing the practice of sprint interval training can equal big numbers for calories burned.

Interval training is favoured by athletes, thanks to its ability to help increase speed and endurance — not to mention stave off boredom with the normal routines, as noted by Huffington Post blogger Estelle Underwood. As she explains:

Interval training is a type of "anaerobic" exercise training in which you alternate bursts of high intensity activity -- or "work" periods -- with intervals of lighter activity, known as "rest and recovery" periods. So just when you think you can't go on, you get to slow down and take it easy!

So while many trainers have focused on how muscles and lung capacity can be built through these methods, for the everyday exerciser, just what's being burned off can play an even bigger role. For the Colorado study, researchers placed five volunteers on a calorie-maintained diet, then kept them in an enclosed room for two days where their environment could be maintained.

The subjects completed an exercise routine on one of the days, consisting of pedalling to their maximum effort on a stationary bicycle for five 30-second periods, with four minutes of recovery in between during which they pedalled slowly with little resistance.

The results? An extra 200 calories burned on the day of the spring interval workouts — after basically just two-and-a-half minutes to a hardcore workout (though admittedly, with an additional 16 minutes expending some effort in the middle).

"Burning an extra 200 calories from these exercises a couple of times a week can help keep away that pound or two that many Americans gain each year," Kyle Sevits, one of the researchers on the study, said, though he does warn that it's difficult to maintain the level of effort of the volunteers without encouragement.

Other studies have also found that interval training can increase the number of calories burned after a workout as well. Putting those two factors together, why not try adding some intervals to your workout to see how they affect your body?

Let us know if you've tried out interval training — and if you've seen any changes — in the comments below.

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