The efficacy of accumulated short bouts versus single daily bouts of brisk walking in improving aerobic fitness and blood lipid profiles

K. Woolf-May, E.M. Kearney, A. Owen, D.W. Jones, R.C.R. Davison, S.R. Bird

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70 Citations (Scopus)


Fifty-six subjects (19 men and 37 woman) aged between 40 and 66 completed the study. They were allocated into three walking groups and a control group (C). The three walking groups performed the same total amount of walking for 18 weeks, but completed it in bouts of differing durations and frequencies. These were Long Walkers (LW; 20-40 min/bout), Intermediate Walkers (IW; 10-15 min/bout) and Short Walkers (SW; 5-10 min/bout); with the IW and SW performing more than one bout of walking a day. Following the 18 week walking programme, compared to the C group all walking groups showed similar improvements in fitness as determined by a reduction in blood lactate during a graded treadmill walking test (LW 1.0 mmol/l; IW 0. 8 mmol/l; SW 1.2 mmol/l; C 0.2 mmol/l; P = 0.003) and reduction in final heart rate (LW 8 beats/min; IW 6 beats/min; SW 10 beats/min; C 0 beats/min; P = 0.056). Also compared to the C group, the LW and IW groups recorded statistically significant decreases in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LW 0.29 mmol/l; IW 0.41 mmol/l; P = 0.024), whereas the control group showed a mean increase of 0.22 mmol/l. The LW and IW groups also showed significant reductions in apolipoprotein (apo) A-II (LW 0.05 g/l; IW 0.02 g/l; SW 0.01 g/l; C 0.00 g/l; P = 0.012) with the LW recording a statistically significant increase in the ratio of apo A-I/A-II (LW, 0.19, P = 0. 044). In conclusion, some health benefits were achieved from all walking programmes. However, whilst the changes in aerobic fitness were similar, the effects upon blood lipid profiles were not. The findings from this study suggest that the LW regimen was most effective in benefiting blood lipid profile, followed by the IW regimen, with the SW being least potent. Nevertheless, for the sedentary/low-active members of society, any improvement in health may be considered as important. Therefore accumulated bouts of moderate intensity exercise, which according to theories of exercise behaviour may be more easily incorporated into an individual's lifestyle than single prolonged bouts, may be advocated for health promotion but may not be as effective as the traditionally prescribed 20-40 min bouts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)803-815
Number of pages13
JournalHealth Education Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Adult
  • Aerobiosis
  • Aged
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Lipids
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Fitness
  • Walking
  • Journal Article


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