With Exercise, Does Less Equal More?

Let’s be honest, now that we are a couple months into 2012…how are your resolutions going? By now the gyms are starting to clear out and folks are losing their motivation. And one of the biggest reasons folks have for not going to the gym is that they don’t have time. Does that sound familiar? I know it does to me! I struggle to carve out time to swim, bike, run, or lift weights…especially when I don’t have a race that I’m training for!

But what if I told you that you could get all the exercise you needed by working out for only 10-20 minutes, and just a few times per week. NOW do you have time to workout?

Welcome to interval training. High-intensity interval training, or “HIIT”, is designed to impart a high demand on the body, but in short amounts of time, with each interval lasting somewhere between 30 and 60 seconds.

A recent study revealed that in as little as two weeks, both unfit study volunteers and cardiac patients selected to participate in the study showed improvements in their overall health and fitness. After six weeks, HIIT “produced similar physiological changes in the leg muscles of young men as multiple, hour-long sessions per week of steady cycling, even though the HIIT workouts involved about 90 percent less exercise time.” In addition, the cardiac patients’ results were equally intriguing.

The results, published in a recent review of HIIT-related research…showed “significant improvements” in the functioning of their blood vessels and heart, said Maureen MacDonald, an associate professor of kinesiology at McMaster who is leading the ongoing experiment.

 The bottom line: Better results with less work. Sounds good to me!

I have personally done interval training and love it. It’s quick (less than 10 minutes), it’s easy (a lot of the time you can do it in the comfort of your own home without any equipment), and it’s a major challenge. I was exhausted (but in a good way!) after each of the interval workouts.

If you have questions about interval (or “burst”) training, I’d recommend you contact Nathan and Jenni Oates, who train clients through their company BURSTClub.com. They actually start their clients out with burst sessions that last about three minutes! How amazing is THAT? Not having time is no longer an excuse.

QUESTION: What is YOUR favorite type of exercise? Have you ever tried interval or burst training?