We all know that we burn calories when we exercise, but did you know you can design your workouts to make your body more efficient at burning calories even after you exercise? And are you aware you can exercise for less time and burn more calories as compared to one of your typical workouts simply by changing how you exercise? Don’t exercise harder, exercise smarter to achieve greater benefits!
Here’s how. It’s called interval training and even the most de-conditioned person can reap the benefits. And the good news is, you can apply the interval training concept to all types of exercise, including walking, running, cycling in the great outdoors or even on cardio equipment at your local gym.
A group of Canadian researchers from Laval University performed trials on two groups. They compared regular endurance or aerobic conditioning to interval training and discovered the group who performed interval training burned twice as many calories in half the amount of time. They were also able to reduce their body fat many times more than the endurance group by increasing their resting metabolic rate (this is how many calories you burn while not exercising).
I recommend incorporating interval training 2-3 days per week and preferably alternating with resistance training (weight training) on the other days to improve your bone density and also boost your metabolism. It’s a winning combination!
Toni Julian, Health Advocate and Fitness Expert
It’s important to note that if you are new to exercise, be sure to have your physician give you the thumbs up before proceeding.
For Beginner Levels:
If you are mostly sedentary and are accustomed to walking 30 minutes, start slowly.
- Start off with five minutes of gentle walking for your warm-up. (Rather than miles per hour I go by perceived exertion level where a 1 is you’re lounging on the sofa and 10 is you’re going all out and ready to lose your breakfast (we never want to hit a 10). You should be at around an exertion level of 4 and able to sing to your iTunes comfortably.
- Speed up your walk to what feels like an exertion level of 8 for the next 60 seconds. Here you will feel shorter of breath and feel your heart beating stronger.
- Slow down your walk now to a level 3 for 2 minutes. You will feel your heart rate begin to drop and your breathing will normalize. The more fit you become over time, the faster your heart rate will recover to this level.
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 five more times.
- Finish with another five minutes of level 4 perceived exertion.
For Advanced Levels
- Five minute warm up at Level 4 of perceived exertion whether cycling, light jogging or other activity
- Step it up to a perceived exertion level of 8 or 9 for the next 60 seconds
- Slow down to a perceived exertion level of a 5 for the next 90 seconds
- Repeat the above steps 2 and 3 five additional times
- Cool down for five minutes at a perceived exertion level of 3.
Pat yourself vigorously on the back, do a happy feet dance and remember to replenish with a light snack of complex carbohydrate, lean protein (check out Toni’s high protein meal solutions) and plenty of pure water.