We have all heard that regular exercise is important for our health. Exercise can reduce our risk for conditions such as cardiovascular disease and increase our fitness and strength. It can also help us sleep better. The current recommendations state that we should do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. Despite this recommendation the majority of us don't follow through. One of the chief barriers cited by patients to getting regular exercise and strength training is "lack of time".
It was this in mind that I have become more and more a fan of recommending a new kind of exercise program that is often referred to as high-intensity interval training (HIIT). This type of exercise takes a lot less time but seems to provide the same health benefits.
The typical HIIT exercise program starts with a short warm-up (2-3 minutes) followed by alternating all-out exercise (sprinting) "intervals" that last 20-30 seconds with short breaks of low intensity movement of 1-2 minutes. This can be repeated a few times and can be wrapped up in 10 minutes with a short cool-down at the end.
Does this program provide the same benefits as the typical recommendations?
More and more this type of exercise program has been studied and shown to provide similar benefits to much longer periods of moderate activity.
A recent study compared two groups of young men to test this question. These men were not in shape to begin with and they all completed 3 sessions of exercise per week for 12 weeks. One group did 45 minutes of moderate activity exercise on a stationary bike. The other group only did 1 minute of all-out exercise within a 10-minute time commitment.
By the end of the study both groups showed equivalent improvements in peak oxygen activity, insulin sensitivity, and skeletal muscle performance. Both groups had an increase in endurance by about 20 percent.
However, they were not equivalent in terms of total time commitment. The moderate activity group spent 27 hours on the bike whereas the high-intensity group only spent 6 hours with only 36 minutes of that time being strenuous.
Personally, I have been using this type of training and found it to be very beneficial. Whether it is right for you depends on your ability to do all-out exercise and your current health status. Before incorporating any exercise regimen make sure to consult our doctor first. If you would like a health assessment or exercise consultation feel free to reach to me as well.
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