Working out at a steady pace is just as beneficial for your physical health as intense exercise sessions, a new study demonstrates.

Academics based at University College London have slammed the saying ‘no pain, no gain’ by shedding light on the benefits of shorter and more steady workout sessions.

They have found that people do not have to spend hours working out in the gym for them to see progress in their body shape.

Instead, individuals can take a slightly more relaxed approach to exercise and witness the same results over time, the study has identified.

According to the scientists, slight pain during exercise is needed to work the muscles correctly; however, you no longer need to push yourself to the point of exhaustion to be able to see physical progress.

The researchers noted: “To get fitter, you don’t necessarily need to push yourself until you can hardly breathe or walk. Instead, taking small steps that require less effort can also work.”

Personal trainer Matt Roberts said: “We need to work muscles hard enough to have that tear and regrowth. It is the tearing and growing that has a certain degree of discomfort. You have to be providing that novel stimulus.

“If someone who has never done anything at all — apart from sit and stand from a chair — does something slightly more, then they will see some improvements. That might mean, in that scenario, they do actually sense some pain.”

Primary author Dr Darren Player said: “For most people, it is as simple as, if you are doing more today than you are doing yesterday, or the previous session, then that really is enough. You don’t have to be pushing yourself to the point where you can’t walk.”

People can achieve good fitness results by walking or cycling for a long period of time because this increases your heart rate in a less painful way, according to the experts.

“This approach falls into the endurance cardio category, working a muscle group over a longer duration, which is more pain free,” said Matt.

He added: “This is opposed to stamina cardio — performing an exercise at close to maximum capacity for a shorter time — which involves pushing to a higher level.

“If your goal is to run a marathon, there is pain involved. If you want to be able to go running just for fun and stay healthy and fit, there is not much pain involved.”

The body creates endorphins during a workout, meaning that people do enjoy exercise rather than just finding it painful.

“When you leave the gym or you have done your run, people walk away feeling better,” said Matt.

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