Adolescents who perform just 8 to 10 minutes of high-intensity exercise three times per week might significantly reduce their risk of developing heart conditions, a new study suggests.

The study, from the University of Exeter and published recently in American Journal of Physiology – Heart and Circulatory Physiology, suggests that even apparently healthy kids who exercised showed improvements in markers indicative of cardiovascular health, according to a media release from the university.

In the study, a research team led by Alan Barker, PhD, asked six girls and seven boys aged between 13 and 14, all from Sidmouth Community College, to carry out six high-intensity workouts over 2 weeks. They were asked to cycle in high-speed bursts of 1 minute, with a 75-second break in-between. They started with eight bursts and built up to 10 over the 2 weeks, the release explains.

The results showed that the training improved both blood vessel function and the brain’s ability to control the beating of the heart, which are important markers of cardiovascular disease. Interestingly, these health improvements occurred despite no alteration to traditional markers of health, such as blood pressure and blood sugar, the release continues.

“We know that activity levels drop significantly as children reach adolescence, and so far attempts to increase this to an hour a day have proved fruitless,” Barker explains in the release.

“This study indicates that, providing the intensity is high, health benefits are achievable with just 8-10 minutes of exercise,” he adds.

Bert Bond, PhD, the study’s lead author, states in the release that the findings about short-intensity exercise are important, but more work is needed to inform existing physical activity guidelines for health.

“The next step is to confirm these results on more participants, especially groups who are at greater risk of future cardiovascular disease, and to address the impact of longer high-intensity interventions,” he notes.

[Source(s): University of Exeter, Science Daily]