Jumpstart Fitness: Get into interval training

 Jumpstart Fitness: Get into interval training

Which are you when it comes to exercising, the tortoise or the hare? When it comes to slow and steady vs fast and furious there are arguments pointing to both ways as the "best" way, but a recent article in The New York Times suggests that it's really a blend of the two that has the most health benefits for most people. And no, a mix of slow and fast in this case does not equal "medium," it means intervals.

Jumpstart Fitness: Get into interval training

Interval training is not new by a long shot, but there is new interest in it due to research continuing to confirm and solidify just how great it is for cardiovascular health and fat burning. Both slow workouts and faster workouts offer similar health benefits such as weight loss, lowered risk for diabetes, and improved cardiovascular health. But it looks like interval training takes these benefits and multiplies them for the positive. Throwing some peaks and valleys into your exercise routine can up your calorie burning and speed up your fitness goals. In addition, benefits seemed similar for people regardless of their physical shape when they started the training. Both low activity/sedentary adults and young fit athletes showed similar levels of improvement in a little as a few weeks.

Be careful, however, not to jump into an interval training program too fast. The steep peaks and valleys required to get the real benefits is something you should run past your doctor before trying. And you don't necessarily have to turn every workout into an interval session -- once or twice a week will likely give you the results you're looking for.

The "intervals" doctors and experts recommend don't have a specific definition, and like all workouts switching things around regularly will only improve the results. But to give you a general idea, the article describes a successful interval pattern as a 1-4 minute session at 80-85% of your maximum heart rate followed by a short "rest" period of lower intensity that isn't quite long enough for your heart rate to return completely to the resting rate.

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