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The Secret to Exercise Is How Often You Do It, Not How Much, According to Research

Concept of Strength Fitness Health
According to the study, it is preferable to spread out your activity over the course of the week as opposed to doing it all at once.

Everyone believes that exercise is important, but should you exercise more frequently or less frequently?
So, should I exercise more frequently once a week or less frequently each day?

Many health-conscious people struggle with this problem, but a recent study from Edith Cowan University (ECU) has a solution. According to a new study, exercising a little bit each day is probably the best strategy, at least for building muscle. Happily, it also suggests that you won’t need to exert a lot of effort.

Three participant groups each did an arm resistance exercise during a four-week training study in Japan that was co-conducted with Niigata University and Nishi Kyushu University. Improvements in muscle strength and thickness were measured and compared between the three participant groups.

The exercise consisted of “maximal voluntary eccentric bicep contractions” performed on a machine that measures your muscle strength during each contraction you would make in a gym. In a bicep curl, an eccentric contraction is when the muscle lengthens; this is comparable to lowering a heavy dumbbell.

The other group jammed all 30 contractions onto one day, once a week, whereas the first group performed six contractions every day, five days per week (65 group). Every week, each group engaged in 30 contractions. A different group only performed six contractions once per week.

Although muscle thickness (a marker of growing muscle growth) increased by 5.8%, the group performing 30 contractions per day did not demonstrate any gain in muscular strength after four weeks. The group performing six contractions once per week did not experience any changes in muscle strength or thickness. However, the 65 group experienced significant increases in muscular strength of more than 10% as well as muscle thickness gains that were comparable to those of the 301 group.

Rhythm, not volume
Importantly, the group that performed only one three-second maximal eccentric contraction per day for five days a week for four weeks in a previous trial showed a similar development in muscle strength to the group in the 65 study.

These research, according to Ken Nosaka, professor of exercise and sports science at ECU, continue to show that regular exercise in relatively moderate levels can actually improve people’s strength.

People believe they need to complete a lengthy resistance training session in the gym, but that is untrue, he claimed. “Just carefully lowering a heavy dumbbell once or twice a day is plenty.”

While the study required participants to put up their best effort, Professor Nosaka claimed that preliminary data from ongoing, ongoing research suggested similar effects may be obtained without having to push as hard as possible.

In this study, we only employed the bicep curl exercise, but we think this would be the case for other muscles as well, at least to some extent, he added.

“Our health depends on having strong muscles. This might delay the loss of strength and muscular mass that comes with aging. Many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, some malignancies, dementia, as well as musculoskeletal issues like osteoporosis, are caused by a decline in muscle mass.

Take a break.
The exact reason the body responds better to eccentric resistance exercises with smaller dosages of load than to larger loads performed fewer frequently is still unknown.

According to Professor Nosaka, it might be related to how frequently the brain is asked to direct a muscle to act in a specific way.

He emphasized that a workout routine should also include time for recovery.

The 65 group in this study had two days off each week, he explained.

“Muscle adaptations take place while we are sleeping; if someone could train continuously, there would be no improvement at all.

“Muscles appear to desire to be stimulated more frequently, yet muscles require rest to improve their strength and muscular mass.”

Additionally, he stressed that it was pointless to attempt to “make up” for missed workouts with lengthier sessions in the future.

It’s okay if someone is ill and unable to exercise for a week, he said, but it’s best to simply resume regular activity when you’re feeling better.

Clear guidance
According to the most recent Australian Government standards, adults should attempt to be physically active every day and engage in 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate physical exercise each week.

Instead of focusing on reaching a weekly minute target, Professor Nosaka suggested there should be greater emphasis placed on the value of making exercise a daily activity.

He claimed that doing a little workout at home each day was more effective than going to the gym only once a week.

In comparison to exercising for several hours once a week, this research and our prior study highlight the value of collecting a small quantity of activity each week.

“We need to understand that every muscle contraction counts and that the frequency with which you perform them matters.

Reference: “Greater effects by performing a small number of eccentric contractions daily than a larger number of them once a week” by Riku Yoshida, Shigeru Sato, Kazuki Kasahara, Yuta Murakami, Fu Murakoshi, Kodai Aizawa, Ryoma Koizumi, Kazunori Nosaka and Masatoshi Nakamura, 31 July 2022, Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports.
DOI: 10.1111/sms.14220

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