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Maximize Your Workout, Minimize Time Spent

Jan. 5, 2014|540 views


This is not another reminder to exercise regularly. Don’t get me wrong: Working exercise into your daily routine is an extremely important investment in your longterm health. That’s a fact, and it will never change. But recently, some of what we thought we understood about exercise has changed.

And it’s good news: You may be able to reap even bigger rewards by spending LESS time working out.

We used to think that the amount of time spent moving—walking, running, swimming, playing tennis, etc.—was the single most important factor when it comes to the benefits of exercise. But we now know that short, intense, even explosive bursts of exercise are even more beneficial than those long, steady bouts. Sometimes called high-intensity interval training (HIIT) this kind of exercise basically amplifies the benefits of ordinary aerobic exercise. And it takes significantly less time.

High intensity exercise can be done much more quickly. And it may actually work better for weight control. Emerging research suggests it has a significantly smaller impact on appetite, for example. Which means you’re less likely to overeat afterwards. In fact, one of the frustrating drawbacks of engaging in long bouts of moderate exercise has always been its effect on hunger. Although swimming a mile, for example, burns calories, it also it makes you ravenous, and increases the likelihood that you will overeat.

But HIIT appears to have a minimal impact on appetite, while providing amplified cardiovascular benefits. And it takes up less of your valuable time. That’s not to say it’s necessarily easier to do. To do it correctly means you must push yourself extremely hard and work out at near your upper tolerance limit. It can be unpleasant. But it’s over with quickly. And it won’t leave you wanting to eat an entire cow. Or a gallon of ice cream. And that’s got to be a good thing.

Rankin AJ, Rankin AC, MacIntyre P, Hillis WS.Walk or run? Is high-intensity exercise more effective than moderate-intensity exercise at reducing cardiovascular risk?Scott Med J. 2012 May;57(2):99-102. doi: 10.1258/smj.2011.011284. Epub 2011 Dec 22.

Shiraev T, Barclay G.Evidence based exercise - clinical benefits of high intensity interval training.Aust Fam Physician. 2012 Dec;41(12):960-2.


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