Gaesser demonstrates aerobic activity on a stationary bicycle
in the exercise physiology lab in Memorial Gym.
researcher studies and promotes realistic exercise plan
if a body -- anybody -- only had to exercise regularly for 10
minutes at a time to achieve and sustain cardiovascular health,
strength, flexibility, weight and vitality? That's just what U.Va.
exercise physiologist Glenn
Gaesser proposes in his new book, The Spark: The Revolutionary
3-Week Fitness Plan That Changes Everything You Know About Exercise,
Weight Control, and Health, co-written with Karla Dougherty and
published by Simon & Schuster.
vigorous bursts of exercise for a duration of 10 minutes, done
15 times a week, bring the same total health and fitness benefits
as a solid hour in the gym three days a week -- with measurable
results in just three weeks, he says. "That is a concrete, thoroughly
documented, scientifically and medically sound guarantee," says
Gaesser, who continues to study the benefits of this new approach
with U.Va. students and employees.
explains precisely why "sparking" works, stressing that the body
starts burning fat during the very first minute of exercise. He
offers an alternative to the time-consuming traditional fitness
formula decreed by the American College of Sports Medicine in
1998, which advises exercise at heart-pounding, sweat-inducing
intensity for 20 minutes to a full hour, three to five days a
week, plus spending days off lifting weights and squeezing in
a hour somewhere for stretching. This grueling workout regimen
has made millions feel defeated -- or too intimidated to even
attempt it, the authors say.
Gaesser, a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine,
co-authored the fitness regimen, he realized soon afterward that
it was an unrealistic expectation for many people working full-time
at sedentary jobs. Having studied athletes, such as long-distance
runners and swimmers, who divide their rigorous workouts into
shorter segments, he decided to adapt that idea for non-athletes.
He put together a new plan to see if short bouts of physical activity
could provide the same health benefits. His study showed results
in just three weeks: a 10 to 15 percent improvement in aerobic
fitness among middle-aged men and women; an increase in strength
and muscular endurance from 40 percent to 100 percent; and a 15-point
drop in total cholesterol -- even higher for high-risk participants.
"Spark" program comprises seven to 10 aerobic, two to
four strength-training and two to four flexibility sessions per
week, each for 10 minutes. In addition to describing and depicting
a range of exercises, the book offers ways to improve attitudes
about food and fitness and provides a high-fiber, high-energy
food plan, reflecting the way people really eat -- without counting
author of Big Fat Lies: The Truth About Your Weight and Your Health,
Gaesser debunks the popular notion of a diet loaded with protein
as the surest route to weight loss. He supports research that
has found that foods rich in complex carbohydrates -- bagels,
pretzels, and pasta, as well as beans, whole grains, fruits and
vegetables -- hold the secret to slimming down and lowering serious
health risks. The authors also offer three weeks' worth of sample
menus, including recipes.
The book aims to help individuals make the commitment to improving
their health and feeling good about it. Filled with testimony
from "Spark" converts, it also includes Dougherty's story of making
the remarkable transition from couch potato to marathon bicyclist
at the age of 50.