Want to cut the length of your workout while maintaining or even increasing the benefits? Try interval training, a type of cardiovascular workout in which you alternate bursts of peppier exercise with slower-paced recovery periods.
Intervals make you work more efficiently: Your overall intensity is greater, so the length of your workout can be cut by about 20 percent. Plus, a growing body of evidence suggests that this approach yields health benefits comparable or superior to traditional exercise, including:
Protecting the heart. Interval training has been linked to improved levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, says Cedric Bryant, chief science officer at the American Council on Exercise. A recent review in the journal Integrative Medicine Alert concluded that intervals are as effective as continuous moderate exercise, “if not more so, for increasing maximum exercise capacity, improving insulin resistance and blood pressure, reducing body fat, and raising HDL.” And a large 2006 epidemiological study in Norway linked a single weekly session of high-intensity exercise with a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease over a 16-year span.