The Richmond Register

Lifestyles & Community

May 10, 2014

Lack time for exercise? Try interval training

RICHMOND — Not having enough time is one of the most common reasons people give for not exercising.

Knowing this, a growing body of research is showing that interval training can deliver more fitness bang for your buck than traditional workouts – in less time.

Interval training involves alternating short bouts of higher intensity exercise with lower intensity activity.

For example, a beginning exerciser might jog for one minute, and then walk for two minutes for active recovery. Repeating that sequence five times could give you many of the same aerobic benefits as steady-state exercise (i.e., walking for 30 minutes at 3 mph).

And the workout could take as little as 15 minutes, compared to twice that duration for the traditional routine.

The benefits of interval training are numerous.

Evidence shows higher intensity exercise can increase the size of mitochondria, which are the power plants in your body’s cells. Mitochondria are responsible for fat burning and so, the harder they work, the larger they become and the more fat they burn.

Interval training, like traditional aerobic exercise also offers similar cardiovascular health benefits, such as reduced risk of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes.

If you’re a beginner, it’s important that you start easy and don’t overdo it. The routine mentioned earlier could be an appropriate one for many beginners, but be sure to modify it according to your fitness level and history of exercise.

Intermediate or advanced exercisers can work up to higher intensities and longer durations, which can result in more fitness gains in less time. 

Interval training is fairly demanding on the body and so you should keep the workouts at two to three times a week to allow the body to rest and recover.

Also, be sure to warm up for at least 3-5 minutes before starting an interval workout.

And don’t forget, the low-intensity rest period is just as important and needs to be performed. Without it, you’ve lost the “interval” phase of interval training, and with it, many of the excellent conditioning benefits. 

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