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Research Finds Ultimate Offers Natural Benefits of Interval Training with an Added Bonus: Fun

SAN DIEGO, May 19, 2016— Since its invention by a group of high school students in the 1960s, ultimate (known by many as “Ultimate Frisbee”) has grown into a college staple and an internationally competitive sport. But does it offer a good workout? To find out, American Council on Exercise (ACE) commissioned an independent study (include link here) by researchers at Western State Colorado University to evaluate the health benefits of ultimate.

In the study led by Lance C. Dalleck, Ph.D., researchers recruited 16 healthy and physically active young adults between 18 and 25 years of age to play eight ultimate matches lasting 40 minutes each. Researchers equipped participants with a calorimetric measurement system, a heart rate monitor and a GPS unit to record distance travelled while they played. In addition, peak blood pressure was measured in all participants at the end of the match and then every 30 minutes for the 90 minutes post-exercise.

The study revealed that ultimate burns an average of 477 calories per match and elicits training benefits similar to those observed with moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercise, such as running at five miles per hour. Data showed cardiovascular benefits comparable to traditional interval workouts, as ultimate players regularly switch from full sprints on offense to jogging back to defensive positions. These findings indicate that ultimate, played three times a week, is an excellent tool in meeting the physical activity guidelines recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“We found that playing ultimate offered an effective and natural form of interval training that improved cardiovascular health and lowered post-exercise blood pressure,” says American Council on Exercise Chief Science Officer Cedric X. Bryant, Ph.D. “In addition, many participants were surprised to learn how many calories they had burned while simply playing.”

In another ACE-commissioned study on interval training, fitness newcomers were subjected to eight weeks of moderate- or high-intensity interval training on an indoor, stationary bicycle. Participants reported low amounts of enjoyment, making them unlikely to stick with the program outside of the study.

“When choosing an exercise program, choose something that will not only improve your health and fitness, but something you also find enjoyable,” says Bryant. “Our study of ultimate reinforced the importance of the ‘fun factor.’ If you find a way to stay physically active that brings more joy and fun into your day, particularly complemented by the secondary benefits of being outdoors, you’ll be much more likely to stick with it for an extended period of time. We should never underestimate the importance of enjoyment and fun in our exercise routines.”

To view the study, visit:

About ACE

The nonprofit organization American Council on Exercise (ACE) educates, certifies and represents more than 60,000 currently certified fitness professionals, health coaches and other allied health professionals. ACE advocates for a new intersection of fitness and healthcare, bringing the highly qualified professionals ACE represents into the healthcare continuum so they can contribute to the national solution to physical inactivity and obesity. ACE is the largest certifier in its space and all four of its primary certification programs are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), the gold standard in the United States for accreditation of certifications that assess professional competence. ACE also plays an important public-service role, conducting and providing science-based research and resources on safe and effective physical activity and sustainable behavior change. For more information, call 800-825-3636 or visit AMERICAN COUNCIL ON EXERCISE, ACE and ACE logos are Registered Trademarks of the American Council on Exercise.


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Founded in 1985, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) is a nonprofit organization committed to America's health and wellbeing. Over the past 30 years, we have become an established resource for health and fitness professionals, and the public, providing comprehensive, unbiased research and validating ourselves as the country's trusted authority on health and fitness.

Today, ACE is the largest nonprofit health and fitness certification, education and training organization in the world with more than 65,000 certified professionals who hold more than 72,000 ACE Certifications. With a long heritage in certification, education, training and public outreach, we are among the most respected organizations in the industry and a resource the public has come to trust for health and fitness education.