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Multiple short bouts of exercise are better than a single continuous bout for cardiometabolic health: a randomised crossover trial

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journal contribution
posted on 15.01.2021, 02:28 by Philip Shambrook, Michael Kingsley, Nicholas Taylor, Daniel Wundersitz, CE Wundersitz, Brett Gordon
Purpose: To compare cardiometabolic responses to five consecutive days of daily postprandial exercise accumulated in three 10-min bouts or a single 30-min bout to a no-exercise control. Methods: Ten insufficiently active adults completed three trials in a randomised order. Each trial comprised five consecutive days of 30 min of exercise either accumulated in three separate 10-min bouts (ACC) after main meals; a single 30-min bout after dinner (CONT); or a no-exercise control (NOEX). Glucose regulation was assessed from an oral glucose tolerance test. Applanation tonometry was used to assess pulse wave velocity approximately 12 h following completion of the final trial. Results: Area under the 2-h glucose curve was similar for CONT (mean; 95% CI 917 mmol L−1 2 h−1; 815 to 1019) and ACC (931 mmol L−1 2 h−1; 794 to 1068, p = 0.671). Area under the 2-h insulin curve was greater following NOEX (70,328 pmol L−1 2 h−1; 30,962 to 109,693) than ACC (51,313 pmol L−1 2 h−1: 21,822 to 80,806, p = 0.007). Pulse wave velocity was lower for ACC (5.96 m s−1: 5.38 to 6.53) compared to CONT (6.93 m s−1: 5.92 to 7.94, p = 0.031) but not significantly lower for ACC compared to NOEX (6.52 m s−1: 5.70 to 7.34, p = 0.151). Conclusion: Accumulating 30 min of moderate-intensity walking in three bouts throughout the day is more effective at reducing markers of cardiometabolic health risk in insufficiently active, apparently healthy adults than a single daily bout. Both accumulated and single-bout walking were equally as effective at reducing postprandial glucose concentrations compared to a no-exercise control. Therefore, accumulating exercise in short bouts after each main meal might be more advantageous for overall cardiometabolic health.


The authors would like to acknowledge the participants who committed their time to participate in this study, and the undergraduate and post-graduate students who helped in the data collection. This study was made possible by funding received from the La Trobe University Sport Exercise and Rehabilitation Research Focus Area. Philip Shambrook was supported by an Australian Government Research Training Programme Scholarship.


Publication Date



European Journal of Applied Physiology








Springer Nature



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