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HealthTraining & Performance

Can short bouts of exercise add up to cardiovascular fitness?

If I do 20 minutes of cardio at one time and then another 10-12 minutes a few hours later, will I get the se benefit as if I do it all at once? Nancy Caledonia, Ontario

A: If you are talking about caloric burn, the answer is yes. In an effort to encourage people to exercise any way, any how, the American College of Sports Medicine has put out the word over the last few years about studies showing that multiple brief sessions yield results similar to those in which the total exercise time is tallied all at once.

That's why CDC recommendations specify that every adult should accumulate [emphasis added] 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity on most— preferably all— days of the week. (Though that prescription has risen to 60 minutes in some quarters.) But to help your heart get its best possible workout, there is something to be said for getting at least 20 minutes in one haul. It can take your heart rate several minutes to stabilize at an elevated workout pace.

Moreover, if you are trying to develop the metabolic infrastructure of endurance, your body needs to go for a long time in order to learn how to go for a long time, so a few short bouts of exercise won't cut the mustard.

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Filed To: Endurance Training