Harvard Heart Letter

Interval training: A faster route to a stronger heart?

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Short bursts of intense exercise may help build heart fitness. But run the idea by your doctor before you begin.

Want to add some variety to your exercise routine and finish your workout a little faster? Consider interval training, which alternates short, intense bouts of exercise with longer periods of lighter, less vigorous activity. The potential payoff may be enhanced cardiovascular fitness in less time.

"One appealing aspect of interval training is that you may be able to get more bang for your buck, meaning you don't have to exercise for as long to see a similar improvement in fitness," says Dr. Meagan Wasfy, a cardiologist at the Cardiovascular Performance Program at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.

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