Fitness: high-intensity trumps slow and steady

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Fitness: high-intensity trumps slow and steady

High-intensity exercise for about two to three minutes has been shown to be more beneficial than around 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise. So, for anyone who is time poor, or just doesn’t want to spend a lot of time doing exercise, then as little as around 10 minutes (from the warm-up to the two or three minutes of the intense workout to cooling down) can be enough to see beneficial changes.

Of course, doing more than this, by upping the high intensity level to around 10 minutes in total is even better.

In recent years there have been a series of studies looking at the specifics of exercise and trying to determine which exercises are best for preventing cardio-vascular disease (CVD) and boosting metabolic rates. Of course, CVD is very much associated with diet, so any exercise regimen should really be accompanied by an equally important look at what you are putting into your mouth on a daily basis.

Efficiency and effectiveness are the key words in exercise. What’s the point in running 10 kilometres a day, for example, if you could achieve the same or better results by engaging in, say, high-intensity exercise for two to three minutes?

The type of exercise you do is important, especially as you age and muscle slowly turns to fat. The bottom line is quite simple for the older person, really. There is absolutely no need to try and lift heavier weights, unless you’re actively attempting to put on size for some reason. However, training with weights to produce what is often referred to erroneously as that lactic acid burn is well worth the effort, and it can be done as easily with a pair of dumbbells weighing no more than about three kilograms each. By the time you’ve attempted to get to 30 reps, for example, of arm curls, your bicep muscles will probably be screaming. That’s what many trainers call the lactic acid effect. In actual fact it’s not lactic acid, it’s the waste products (hydrogen and ammonia) in the bloodstream that are being eaten up which are giving you the ‘burn’ sensation.

According to a 2012 study conducted at the Vanderbilt Medical Center in the United States, lactic acid supplies energy and promotes growth and allows the body to perform better for a longer period of time. More importantly, lactic acid actually acts like a growth hormone which makes the body leaner and stronger over time.

A training protocol that involved a full-body workout with light weights, but done in such a way as to really stimulate that lactic acid effect, and lasting not much more than 10-15 minutes in total could make all the difference to your overall health and well-being. 

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