Forget 10,000 steps a day, the best way of getting – and staying – fit is to cycle very hard at least three times a week. So said BBC's The Truth About Getting Fit. Host Michael Mosley and researchers from Sheffield Hallam University conducted an experiment on high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, and found that cycling in just short bursts three times a week was as effective as long runs and mammoth walks.
Forty seconds of HIIT – a sprint away from the lights perhaps? – three times a week recorded a quantifiable improvement in fitness levels. That is just two minutes of exercise a week.
"By the middle of January many people struggle to keep up their resolutions to be more active," said a blurb for the programme. "The result is that the UK wastes nearly £600 million a year on unused gym memberships."
However, "latest research is turning common knowledge about fitness on its head," said the BBC.
The programme revealed "why 10,000 steps is just a marketing ploy and that two minutes of exercise is all a person needs each week."
A 2017 study found that if your New Year's Resolution was to lose weight you'd be just as well cycling to work rather than hitting the gym. Published in the International Journal of Obesity the study concluded that "Active commuting is an alternative to leisure-time exercise in the management of overweight and obesity."
The study – "Effects of active commuting and leisure-time exercise on fat loss in women and men with overweight and obesity: A randomized controlled trial" – was published online in October.
"A meaningful fat loss was obtained by 6 months of active commuting and leisure-time exercise, but fat loss was greater with vigorous compared to moderate intensity exercise," said the study.
So, up your pace as you get fitter and you'll lose even more weight!
Cycling to work is transport as well as exercise, and can soon become part of a daily routine. Hitting the gym can also become part of a daily routine but, as gyms find out every January, the drop-out rate is exceedingly high.