Hit the gym before eating junk
Even the healthiest amongst us slip now and then, but it turns out there might be a way to have the odd junk food meal without feeling too guilty. New research suggests high-intensity bouts of exercise before you indulge might help protect blood vessels, with just eight minutes of speedy cycling thought to be enough.
A study conducted by scientists at the University of Exeter found these short bursts of activity is better for you than longer lengths at a more moderate pace, something they hope will encourage younger people to work out more. That's because many get put off by guidelines suggesting at least an hour a day is required.
It's been known for while that working out before a high-fat meal can help your blood vessels cope with the influx of junk, but the new research shows that speedy gym sessions are particularly effective.
This is of interest because cardiovascular illnesses like heart attacks are one of the biggest causes of death in the world. Problems with blood vessels can be an early indicator of the problem, and after eating a fatty meal it's known they don't function as well.
"Considering that very few adolescents currently achieve the recommended minimum of one hour of at least moderate-intensity exercise per day, smaller amounts of exercise performed at a higher-intensity might offer an attractive alternative to improve blood vessel function in adolescents," Dr Alan Barker of the university explained of the research published in the American Journal Of Physiology - Heart And Circulatory Physiology.
To test the idea, groups of young people either did 25 minutes of moderate exercise or eight minutes at a higher level and were then given a high fat milkshake. While those who exercised longer had better blood vessel function than if they'd done nothing, it was significantly improved in those who'd gone full pelt for eight minutes.
Deciding when to fit a normal gym session into your daily routine can be a tricky business. Ideally you should hit the gym between two and three hours after a full meal, any sooner and you'll feel too full to give it a proper go. But it's also worth remembering your body needs some fuel to pound that treadmill, so if it's been longer than that have a small snack an hour before tying up your trainers.