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.