Field evaluation of energy expenditure from continuous and intermittent walking in women

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001 Jan;33(1):163-70. doi: 10.1097/00005768-200101000-00025.


Rationale: Recent physical activity recommendations suggest that comparable amounts of prescribed physical activity, done as a single continuous bout or as a set of intermittent bouts, will produce equal amounts of energy expenditure (EE) during the prescribed activity as well as throughout the day.

Hypotheses: In a field setting, we tested two hypotheses: (1) continuous and intermittent walking conditions will result in significantly greater total daily EE than a control condition, and (2) continuous and intermittent walking conditions will result in similar total daily

Methods: Thirty women (mean age [yr] = 43.7+/-5.8; mean body mass index [kg x m(-2)]= 24.7+/-4.0) participated in a repeated-measures design so that each woman participated in three walking conditions on successive days of the week: a single 30-min brisk walk (continuous): three 10-min brisk walks (intermittent); and no activity (control). Throughout the study protocol, women wore a TRITRAC-R3D accelerometer programmed to estimate EE in 2-min intervals.

Results: Mean total EE estimates (kcal) for the three walking conditions were as follows: continuous: 2181+/-308; intermittent: 2121+/-305; and control: 1948+/-270. A repeated-measures analysis of variance omnibus test indicated that EE differed significantly by experimental condition [F(2,58) = 40.2, P < 0.001). To test the first hypothesis, contrasts were examined revealing that EE in the continuous and intermittent conditions was significantly greater than EE in the control condition [F(1,29) = 58.2, P < 0.001]. To test the second hypothesis, contrasts revealed that EE in the continuous condition was significantly greater than EE in the intermittent condition [F(1,29) = 7.0, P = 0.013].

Conclusion: For the purposes of total EE, selecting a continuous mode of walking may offer additional benefit over an intermittent mode, given the same total prescribed duration.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Walking / physiology*