Cardiovascular exercise vs. high-intensity interval training

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In the past, most recommendations for exercise have called for a certain number of hours dedicated to physical activity.  For instance,  published guidelines from the Health and Human Services Department in 2008 suggested 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week — the equivalent of five 30-minute walks. The guidelines added that 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week, such as jogging, could be substituted.

By most estimates, however, at least 80 percent of Americans don’t meet the recommendations.  With the time constraints in mind, many people have turned to shorter, more intense workouts called high-intensity interval training.

But which is better for you?

The argument for traditional cardio exercise

By "traditional cardio exercise," scientists are usually referring to longer bouts of lower-intensity exercise.  There are cases both for and against this type of workout.  Here are some of the key research findings:

The argument for high-intensity interval training

The new hot trend in exercise is high-intensity interval training, in which short bouts of hard exercise are combined with periods of rest to create a much shorter, more focused workout.  This may be better suited for the modern adult who may have limited time to get in his or her exercise.  But is it any healthier than training for a longer duration?