Exercise is recommended to increase physical health and performance. However, it is unclear how low-intensity exercise (LIE) of different durations may affect or improve recovery ability. This study aimed to investigate how LIE-duration with the same volume affects recovery ability in adults. Twenty healthy male adults participated in this study. Participants were randomly assigned to the 30-min (n = 10) or the 1-h LIE group (n = 10). The intervention included sixteen exercise sessions/four weeks with a 30-min LIE group, and eight exercise sessions/four weeks with a 1-h LIE group. Heart rate (HR) corresponding to <2 mmol∙L-1 blood lactate (La-) was controlled for LIE. Pre- and post-testing was conducted before and after 4-week LIE and tests included jogging/running speed (S), HR, and differences (delta; ∆) in HR and S between pre- and post-testing at 1.5, 2.0, and 4.0 mmol∙L-1 La-. Only the HR at 2.0 mmol∙L-1 La- of the 30-min LIE group was decreased in the post-test compared to the pre-test (p = 0.043). The jogging/running speed of the 1-h LIE group was improved in the post-test compared to the pre-test (p < 0.001, p = 0.006, p = 0.002, respectively). ∆HR at 2.0 and ∆S between the 30-min and 1-h LIE group at 1.5, 2.0, and 4.0 mmol∙L-1 La- were significantly different (p = 0.023, p < 0.001, p = 0.002, and p = 0.019, respectively). Furthermore, moderate to high positive correlations between ∆HR and ∆S of all subjects at 1.5 (r = 0.77), 2.0 (r = 0.77), and 4.0 (r = 0.64) mmol∙L-1 La- were observed. The 1-h LIE group showed improved endurance not only in the low-intensity exercise domain, but also in the beginning of the moderate to high-intensity exercise domain while the 30-min LIE group was not affected by the 4-week LIE intervention. Therefore, LIE (<2.0 mmol∙L-1) for at least 1-h, twice a week, for 4 weeks is suggested to improve recovery ability in adults.
Keywords: aerobic exercise; endurance; fat oxidation; lactate threshold; regenerative endurance.