Making Your Exercise Count
“I have been going to the gym, but I haven’t lost a pound.” Sound familiar? Over the years, I have heard many patients, family members, friends, and co-workers say these words. Exercise is an extremely important component to overall health. It can lower blood pressure, reduce stress, strengthen muscles/bones, reduce depression, and help manage blood sugar and cholesterol levels. In fact, people who are active tend to lead longer, healthier lives overall. However, exercise alone is often not enough for weight loss. Research indicates that using exercise alone for weight loss requires sixty to ninety minutes of moderate intensity exercise, six to seven days per week. If you are caring for a loved one with a life limiting illness, finding time for exercise can be a challenge. If you have made some healthy diet and lifestyle changes, you may just need to make some small exercise related changes to help stimulate weight loss. High intensity interval training, or HIIT, has been proven to be more effective in reducing body weight and abdominal fat while maintaining muscle mass. In addition, it takes half the time or less to achieve the same calorie burn as it does for steady state cardio.
HIIT training can be incorporated into any exercise routine and can be modified for anyone. It can be performed on all types of exercise equipment, any group fitness class, or at home. HIIT workouts burn more calories in a shorter period of time and the calorie burn continues even after the workout is completed. The goal is to perform at a very high intensity for a short period of time followed by a lower-intensity recovery period. Your high-intensity interval should feel “hard” or “very hard” and it should be difficult for you to carry on a conversation during this time. During the recovery interval, you should feel very comfortable and be able to easily carry on a conversation.
|60 – 90 minutes treadmill walk or jog||30 minutes of 1:1 HIIT (Run at a faster than normal pace for 1 minute, walk for 1 minute and repeat)|
|60 – 90 minutes of exercise bike||20 minutes of HIIT (all-out effort for 30 seconds, 3-minute recovery and repeat)|
|60 – 90 minutes treadmill incline walking||30 minutes of 1:1 HIIT (walk a fast pace at max incline for 3 minutes, recover on a flat surface for 3 minutes and repeat)|
|60 – 90 minutes of Stairmaster||20 minutes of HIIT (all-out effort for 30 seconds, 3-minute recovery and repeat)|
|60 – 90 minutes of walking outside||30 minutes of HIIT (jump rope at a fast pace for 30 seconds, walk to recover for 3 minutes and repeat)|
|60 – 90 minutes of running outside||30 minutes of HIIT (sprint for 30 seconds, jog to recover for 3 minutes and repeat)|
There are many great references and examples of HIIT online. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends a medical evaluation and clearance before beginning any exercise program. Since HIIT workouts are more intense and require more recovery time, start by adding one HIIT session per week and increase based on your level of fitness. Remember that exercise in any amount or form, is better than no exercise. Get out there and find something you love to do and your body with thank you!