When It Comes to Exercise, It’s How Often, Not How Much

It’s no secret exercise is essential for physical and mental health. Less commonly known is whether it’s better to get in a lot of activity a few times a week or break a small sweat every day.

Thankfully, a new study from Edith Cowan University has an answer.

While everyone has bio-individual needs in an exercise routine, a little exercise daily has the most benefits, specifically for muscle strength.

This could be good or bad news, depending on your lifestyle. For some, it may be a relief to know you don’t have to go hard at each workout (a little daily activity is enough), but for others who don’t like to work out daily, this may cause some upheaval.

The study was conducted over one month, where groups of participants each did arm resistance exercises (bicep curls, specifically). Their muscle strength was monitored, measured, and compared during this time. The participants did workouts while machines were able to gauge muscle strength during the bicep curls.

Two groups did 30 workouts a week, but they were divided up differently depending on the group. One group performed six workouts a day, five days a week, for a total of 30 workouts, while another group did all 30 workouts in one day each week. A third group only performed six workouts once a week.

Results showed that the second group, which did all 30 workouts in one day, showed no improvement in their muscle strength after the month-long testing period (although their muscle thickness did grow slightly).

The third group, which performed six workouts once a week, showed no muscle strength or thickness improvements.

The “winners” were the first group who spread out their workouts throughout the week (six workouts a day, five days per week), which showed comparable increases in strength and muscle thickness.

“People think they have to do a lengthy session of resistance training in the gym, but that’s not the case. Just lowering a heavy dumbbell slowly once or six times a day is enough.” – EDU Exercise and Sports Science Professor, Ken Nosaka.

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