Warmer weather means more of us are headed out to play in the great outdoors. Exercising smarter may help you reach your fitness goals sooner, according to an expert presenting today at the American College of Sports Medicine’s 15th annual Health & Fitness Summit & Exposition.
A type of exercise called high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can literally intensify and supercharge your fitness. During a series of intervals, you push yourself hard for a brief time – even for only one minute – then rest for a brief time to recover. You then keep switching between exercise and rest until your session is finished. “The real advantage of HIIT versus distance training is that you can get the same benefits – such as fat loss, improved muscle cell function, increased oxygen consumption and improved anaerobic capacity – but you don’t have to exercise as long,” said Michael Bracko, Ed.D., FACSM, in a prepared statement.
You can continue to burn off extra calories for up to 24 hours after the session, according to the ACSM. Many types of activities, including bicycling, running, in-line skating, and stair-climbing can be incorporated into your interval training.
And you don’t have to keep your eye on the clock the whole time. Instead of checking your watch while you work out, you can run the distance between several telephone poles, then walk past several more. Or you can try choosing houses, mailboxes, bridges, and other objects ahead of you to serve as your start and finish points.
Since this tends to provide an intense workout, the ACSM urges people to:
- See your doctor for a checkup before you dive into it
- Include a warm-up before each session, and
- Skip the intervals if you have an injury.
“HIIT can be crazy hard, and it’s not for everyone,” Bracko said. “Always warm up for a long time before starting the intervals. If you have an injury, or if you have not been cleared to exercise, please do not begin a HIIT program until those are resolved.”
Written by: Dr. Cynthia D. Haines, M.D.
The New Prescription: How to Get the Best Health Care in a Broken System by Dr. Cynthia D. Haines, M.D. (Dr. Cindy Haines) and Eric Metcalf, M.P.H. is a book about getting what you really want: better health on your own terms. More medical care doesn’t mean better health. Dr. Haines and Metcalf reveal some of the most egregious problems with a medical system gone awry, opening readers’ eyes to how to better navigate the changes underway. Using solid research, insiders’ insights, and patient anecdotes, they offer cost-effective and potentially life-saving ways to get more out of health care while using less of it.