mobile-bannertablet-bannerdesktop-banner
Runner Exercise
Getty Images

The Best Workout for Weight Loss

Mar 02, 2015
TIME Health
For more, visit TIME Health.

Everyone knows that cardio exercise—by way of a bike ride or a sprint—is key to weight loss. But a high-intensity cardio workout may do a better job of decreasing blood sugar levels than lower intensity exercise, according to a new study in Annals of Internal Medicine.

The study assigned 300 obese people to a group: one that exercised with low intensity for long periods of time or another that engaged in high-intensity workouts for short durations. By the end of six months, people in both groups experienced similar levels of weight loss. But those who had exercised with higher intensities saw reduced two-hour glucose levels, a key measure for predicting conditions like heart disease and stroke. People in the high-intensity group saw a 9% improvement in glucose tolerance, compared to a negligible change in people who took part in low-intensity exercise.

See the 10 Healthiest Cities to Live in America

Honolulu, Hawaii
Honolulu, Hawaii Best Place for Lifelong Health The heavenly climate helps, but the key to well-being here also includes enviable health care and a rich cultural tradition of looking out for one another.Colin Anderson—Blend Images/Corbis
Honolulu, Hawaii
San Francisco, California
Burlington, Vermont
Silicon Valley
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Boulder, Colorado
Plano, Texas
Portland, Oregon
Boston, Massachusetts
Provo, Utah
Honolulu, Hawaii Best Place for Lifelong Health The heavenly climate helps, but the key to well-being here also includes
... VIEW MORE

Colin Anderson—Blend Images/Corbis
1 of 10

Increasing the intensity of a workout isn't beyond the reach of most exercisers, according to lead study author Robert Ross, a researcher at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. "Higher intensity can be achieved simply by increasing the incline while walking on a treadmill or walking at a brisker pace," Ross says.

Read more: This Is How Much Exercise Experts Think You Really Need

Still, while high-intensity exercise may have some unique health benefits, the study showed that any exercise is better than none. People who exercised lost 5-6% of their body weight, a 4- to 5-centimeter reduction in waist size.

The study challenges the way public health officials tend to think about the health benefits of exercise. Health organizations often issue guidelines based on time spent exercising. Instead, the study suggests, health officials should consider intensity as well.

Read more: The 50 Healthiest Foods of All Time

Read next: The Best Workout Move You’re Not Doing

newsletter
The Brief NewsletterSign up to receive the top stories you need to know right now. View Sample

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.