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High-Intensity Workouts May Deter Exercisers

Lower-intensity, longer workouts preferred, despite equal caloric expenditure

THURSDAY, Aug. 30 (HealthDay News) -- People who exercise report that shorter, high-intensity workouts are less pleasurable than longer, moderate-intensity ones, even though they involve the same total work and calories burned, researchers report in the August issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

Marcus Kilpatrick, Ph.D., of the University of South Florida in Tampa, and colleagues compared 37 college students' affective response to two sessions of cycle ergometry that differed in duration and intensity but were equal in total calories burned. The two sessions were 30 minutes at 85 percent of ventilatory threshold versus an average of 24 minutes at 105 percent ventilatory threshold.

Though both workouts involved the same total work and caloric expenditure, the higher-intensity, shorter duration workouts were associated with a significantly lower affective valence than the lower-intensity longer workouts, with no differences in felt arousal. In addition, affective valence declined throughout the higher-intensity workout, but not the lower-intensity workout.

"Findings from this experiment indicate that affective valence is reduced for higher-intensity exercise compared with moderate intensity at an equal total caloric expenditure, but activation was not impacted," the authors write. "Such findings support growing sentiment that increased exercise intensities may negatively impact exercise adherence."

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