Researchers looking at ways to improve government physical activity guidelines and tackle Britain's fitness crisis are calling for volunteers to take part in a new study.
The University of Leeds project, funded by Yorkshire-based national charity Heart Research UK, will test whether exercise based on short bursts of activity is more beneficial than the daily moderate intensity exercise recommended by the government.
Dr Carrie Ferguson, Lecturer in Physiology at the University of Leeds' School of Biomedical Sciences, said: "This is about finding ways of exercising that people can actually attain and that maximise health benefits. At the moment, the government is recommending approximately 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity on most days of the week, but in practice many people find this difficult to achieve."
Instead, the study will ask groups of volunteers to try two alternative interval training regimes that will require less of a time commitment and, the researchers hope, equivalent or greater health benefits.
"In today's world, people are very busy and finding a big block of time to do exercise most days of the week can be very hard," Dr Ferguson said. "Our laboratory results indicate that the shorter interval training regime may work better, but this study will test whether it works in the real world."
The first group of volunteers will do three home-based sessions a week, alternating one minute of intense activity with one minute of recovery for 30 minutes.
A second group will do the same sessions, but with four minutes of activity and four minutes of recovery.
The last group will follow the existing government guidance of a total of 150 minutes of moderate activity in a week.
"The moderate activity called for by the current guidelines is relatively easy–you can walk at a moderate pace and easily have a chat with the person next to you. We will be asking people to push themselves quite hard during the short bursts of the interval training. It won't be running, but we will be asking them to walk at the maximum speed that they can manage," Dr Ferguson said.
At the outset, volunteers will undertake baseline tests to assess their physical fitness. They will also be asked about their daily lives and the obstacles to exercise they face.
They will be given heart rate monitors and asked to pursue one of the three exercise regimes. At the end of 12 weeks of exercise training, they will repeat the tests and will be asked about their experience of the programmes and how their quality of life has been affected.
The researchers are looking for 75 people aged 18-55 years who do less than two hours of exercise a week, are non-smokers and are overweight (have a Body Mass Index 25 kg/m2 or more;
Those interested in taking part should contact Dr Ros Lancaster by email:
or telephone: 0113 343 1669.
Dr Carrie Ferguson is available for interview.
Contact Chris Bunting, Senior Press Officer, University of Leeds on 0113 343 2049 or email
Contact Chris Child, Communications Manager, Heart Research UK on 0113 297 6207 or email
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Alison Baker, HEFCE GCRF Grant (Jan 2018), £2,000
Graham Askew, Simon Walker, BBSRC (Jan 2018), £699,781
Jennifer Tomlinson, Royal Society (Jan 2018), £512,801
Alison Dunn, NERC (Dec 2017), £18,000
Jennifer Tomlinson, Royal Society-Research Fellows Enhancement Award (Dec 2017), £94,681
Helen Miller, AB AGri Grant (Dec 2017), £73,600
Simon Walker, Royal Society Enhancement Award (Dec 2017), £10,000
Carrie Ferguson, Bryan Taylor, Harry Rossiter, The Physiological Society (Dec 2017), £7,392
Ralf Richter, Royal Society (Dec 2017), £6,000
Christine Foyer, British Council Newton Fund (Dec 2017), £49,840
Adrian Whitehouse and colleagues in School of Chemistry and University of Liverpool, MRC (Nov 2017), £622,319
Michelle Peckham, Neil Ransom, MRC (Nov 2017), £495,159
Dave Lewis, British Council India (Nov 2017), £22,540
Elton Zeqiraj, Royal Society (Nov 2017), £15,000
Hannah Dugdale, Royal Society (Nov 2017), £15,000
Shaunna Burke, Cancer Research UK Innovation Grant (Nov 2017), £20,000
Alex O'Neill and colleagues in Chemistry, BBSRC (Nov 2017), £431,865
Jessica Kwok, Wings for Life (Nov 2017), £87,365
Tom Bennett, BBSRC (Oct 2017), £523,679
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Nikita Gamper, BBSRC (Oct 2017), £490,426
Amanda Bretman and colleagues from UEA, NERC (Oct 2017), £430,886
Juan Fontana, Rosetrees Trust consumables grant (Oct 2017), £22,500
Helen Miller, DSM Nutritional Products AG (Sep 2017), £69,988
Neil Ranson, Juan Fontana, Mark Harris, Michelle Peckham, Ralf Richter, Peter Stockley, Patricija Van Oosten-Hawle and colleagues in Engineering, FMH and MAPS, Wellcome Trust Equipment Call (Sep 2017), £418,000
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Frank Sobott, Adrian Goldman, Mark Harris, Andrew Macdonald, Stephen Muench, Sheena Radford and colleagues in FMH and MAPS, Wellcome Trust Equipment Call (Aug 2017), £415,000
Ralf Richter, David Brockwell, Eric Hewitt, Jessica Kwok, Emanuele Paci and MAPS/FMH, BBSRC (Jun 2017), £600,000
Eric Blair, Adrian Whitehouse, Nicola Stonehouse, Alison Baker, Richard Bayliss, Joan Boyes, Ryan Seipke, Sally Boxall and MAPS/FMH, BBSRC (Jun 2017), £376,000
Stefan Kepinski, Yoselin Benitez-Alfonso, Tom Bennett, Michelle Peckham, BBSRC (Jun 2017), £331,000
Roman Tuma, Lars Jeuken, Paul Millner, Sheena Radford, Peter Stockley and MAPS/FMH, BBSRC (Jun 2017), £222,000
Vas Ponnambalam, Darren Tomlinson, Stephen Wheatcroft, BHF (May 2017), £107,878
Graham Askew in collaboration with Bangor University, BBSRC (Mar 2017), £477,383
Stephen Muench, BBSRC (Mar 2017), £132,945
Nic Stonehouse, MRC (Mar 2017), £906,341
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Adrian Goldman, EU (Mar 2017), £546,576
Sheena Radford, Wellcome Trust (Mar 2017), £1,836,482
Tom Bennett, Royal Society (Mar 2017), £15,000
Beatrice Filippi, Royal Society (Mar 2017), £15,000
Jamie Johnston, Royal Society (Mar 2017), £15,000
Ryan Seipke, BBSRC (Feb 2017), £52,116
Mary O'Connell, BBSRC (Feb 2017), £46,986
Hannah Dugdale, NERC (Feb 2017), £504,138
Anastasia Zhuravleva, EPSRC (Jan 2017), £100,792