The Metabolic Advantages of Moderate Exercise

There are a lot of advantages to high-intensity interval training, and moderate, steady-state exercise is often viewed as less effective. But a new study published in Medicine & Science highlights why any movement is beneficial, plus the metabolic advantage of moderate exercise in particular.

From the Study

Exercise scientists at the University of Guelph in Ontario set out to compare the changes in people’s bodies based on how they trained – with intense intervals or standard, moderate workouts. The catch is that the workouts adhere to current formal exercise recommendations. At this time, both medical and sports groups recommend competing interval training workouts no more than three times per week to avoid overly straining the muscles. Moderate exercise is suggested at least five time a week, with a minimum of thirty minutes per session.

In the study, researchers recruited 23 sedentary, overweight, adult men and split them into two groups. One completed HIIT workouts three days a week with no exercise on the other days, and the other group trained at a moderate pace five times per week. Tests to measure fitness, body composition, and blood pressure were completed at the onset of the study and again at its conclusion six weeks later. Participants also wore blood-sugar monitors for a week to measure metabolic health.

During workouts, the interval group rode stationary bikes as hard as possible for 30 seconds, rested two minutes, then repeated for four to six cycles. The moderate group rode stationary bikes at a moderate, sustainable pace for 30 to 40 minutes. Each week, the interval group pedaled intensely for less than an hour, while the moderate group completed at least two and a half hours.

Study Results

By the study’s end, all the participants were fitter. Interestingly, that was true no matter which group they were in. But it was the moderate group who had additional benefits, including less body fat and improved blood pressure. What’s more, both groups showed better blood-sugar control on their days of exercise. That was significant, because it was the moderate group that exercised more frequently. On the four days that the interval group didn’t exercise, their blood sugar levels tended to rise.


Deciding between HIIT and more frequent, moderate exercise is dependent on what you’re hoping to achieve. If specific health benefits like improving blood sugar and controlling blood sugar is key, then more frequent, less-intense exercise might be best. But as in all things, the best approach is likely a balance of the two. And the trainers at Framework Personal Training in Reno are here to help. We’ll work with you to create a truly customized approach to fitness that incorporates your goals while accommodating your current limitations. Learn more about our trainer now – schedule a visit today.

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