Research: Two short bouts of exercise is better than one long bout.

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Walking for two periods of exercise per day is better than one even if the total length is the same.


I have heard for years that a slim abdomen is made in the kitchen and not the gym. We know that exercise helps, but the fact is that exercise is not essential, takes longer, and has a very limited effect on its own. That being said, there is growing evidence to support waking as a means to assist with weight loss.

A study from 2019 looked at walking to assist with weight loss​[1]​. This study aimed to evaluate the effect of different daily physical activity frequencies, while maintaining the same daily volume of physical activity, on weight loss, carbohydrate metabolism, and lipid metabolism in women with overweight or obesity throughout a 24‐week intervention.

During their weight‐loss plan, a total of 65 overweight and obese women who had a sedentary lifestyle were randomly allocated to the test groups. The exercise in both groups was walking for 50 minutes in a single bout or two bouts of walking for 25 minutes. The groups included diet plus a long bout of moderate physical activity for 6 days per week or diet plus two shorter bouts of moderate physical activity for 6 days per week. The researchers looked at anthropometric and blood measurements at baseline and at 24 weeks.

The researchers found that both groups lost a medically significant amount of weight. The group with two shorter bouts of exercise had significantly more weight loss, a decrease in waist circumference, and a higher loss in BMI. There were no significant differences were seen in carbohydrate and lipid metabolism characteristics after 24 weeks.

The bottom line: Walking can help with weight loss. Physical activity undertaken in two shorter bouts per day could be more effective for weight loss than a longer single bout activity. There is no reason to believe that this would not work for men, but the study was limited to women. I would like to see a larger study with a more diverse study group.


  1. [1]
    A. Madjd, M. A. Taylor, A. Delavari, R. Malekzadeh, I. A. Macdonald, and H. R. Farshchi, “Effect of a Long Bout Versus Short Bouts of Walking on Weight Loss During a Weight‐Loss Diet: A Randomized Trial,” Obesity, pp. 551–558, Feb. 2019, doi: 10.1002/oby.22416. [Online]. Available:
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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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