News Flash > Cardiovascular Health

 

Interval Training Workout Cuts Exercise Time

Reported June 04, 2010


If you have trouble finding the time to exercise, there might be a solution for you according to experts – interval training workout sessions can help you squeeze a whole week’s exercise quota into less than an hour. This type of workout was first developed for Olympic athletes and believed to be too tough for the rest of us. It involves bursts of work at very high intensity alternated with times of rest or low activity – that’s the interval.

Research over the last few years has shown that older folks and even those with health problems might actually be able to handle these tough workouts, though more research is needed before anyone will recommend them.

If the benefits of interval training pan out, this could revolutionize how all kinds of patients are advised on exercise, perhaps saving them hours at the gym every week.

So far experts have tested workouts like running and biking, but believe swimming and rowing should be other good training options.

Sounds good, but experts caution that ordinary people, especially those who haven’t been active for a while, shouldn’t start an interval training program without first talking to a doctor. Warm ups are also vital. Working with a trained fitness professional to be sure you’re using proper form so that you get the most from your workout is also a smart move.

If you do get the okay from your doctor to give interval training a try, Helgerud suggests you do four sessions that last 4 minutes each with 3 minutes of recovery time in between. Only elite athletes should be making an all out effort, for the rest of us, work up to this level. During the exercise session, you want to be a bit out of breath, but not coping with an obvious feeling of exhaustion.

The research suggests interval training could really impact how much time you spend in the gym each week. As an example, a man in his mid 30s who is already active could get in top shape in about 6 weeks with weekly 45 minute interval training sessions. The same level of fitness would take about three months of regular training. Experts tell us this is due to the fact that body needs intense bursts of activity to build stronger muscles, to change one type of muscle fiber into another that uses oxygen more efficiently.

Traditional workouts just don’t push the body enough.

When you compare a normal exercise routine, jogging for example, to an interval training workout, researchers find you double your endurance; improve your oxygen use and strength by 10% and your speed by at least 5%.

Even studies among populations like the elderly and heart patients showed better oxygen use and fitness after interval training.

And remember, all types of exercise (interval training workouts and more moderate) are able to improve blood pressure and lower cholesterol. Not to mention help you manage stress, burn calories, strengthen your immune system and give your body benefits that will last today and for years to come.