Happy New Year to all! This is that time of year again when we are contemplating changing our lifestyle to reach some goals in life – be it make more money, get a better job, spend more time with our loved ones, create more happiness, and, of course, lose a few pounds and/or become more physically fit/strong. What if I told you there is a way to lose weight while building muscle and improving your aerobic capacity and energy…..? In less than 20 minutes a day, three to five days a week? Twenty minutes – or less!
Endorsed by many renowned cardiologists such as Mark Houston, MD at Vanderbilt University and many integrative medical providers nationwide, this type of work-out is called high intensity interval training, or HIIT. Intensity training works like this: First, a period of warming-up (3-5 minutes) followed by 6-10 short bursts of intense activity (80-100% effort) for a period of 15-45 seconds with a recovery period and then a cool-down (3-5 minutes). The results are amazing!
By working out this way, one is able to burn more fat and calories than just going along at the same slow steady pace – the physiologic effects of this type of workout will encourage the body to burn fat for almost 24 hours after the workout. Some studies say that we will burn 9 times more fat than just a regular steady aerobic workout. And you will make more muscle! The benefits don’t just stop with burning more calories (thus lose weight more easily). We utilize sugar better in our bodies, lowering our risk of diabetes or improving our sugar if we have diabetes. This style of work-out has been proven effective at lower one’s risk of heart disease and stroke – these short bursts of intensity will strengthen the heart muscle and help it endure stress and more variations in heart rate, blood pressure, etc.
And of course, consistent exercise has the effect of lowering blood pressure (equivalent to one blood pressure medication). A recent study also demonstrated that function was improved with patients with heart failure and another has shown that in folks with COPD/lung disease, lung function was improved. We don’t know of any negative effects of this style of work-out. Most patients report that their sleep and mood is greatly improved when they work out this way. Because these short bursts of activity will increase growth hormone (one of the reasons muscle is built), this will equate to better hormonal balance in both men and women, thus better mood, energy, and desire/ability to have sex.
If you are unsure you are healthy enough to start a work-out program, always consult your medical provider. Here is what we tell our patients to do – and do ourselves:
1. Choose your cardiovascular activity: running (track, road, and treadmill), elliptical machine, cycling (stationary, recumbent, spin-bike, and outdoors bicycle), swimming, or rowing machines are all good examples.
2. Warm-up, 3 – 5 minutes. For example, if you are running, walk or jog slowly, depending on your level of fitness.
3. Begin your intervals: we recommend 6-8 cycles of the following
- 30 seconds of 80-100% effort, depending on your level of fitness. 100% means a full-on sprint and 80% if an exertion below sprinting but hard enough you can’t talk to a work-out partner. This is followed by
- 90 seconds of recovery (i.e. walking).
- Repeat for 6-8 cycles.
4. Cool down for 3-5 minutes. In our example above, this would be walking. Gentle stretching afterwards is always a good idea to help with soreness and flexibility.
5. We add in 30-50 minutes of resistance training for overall fitness to improve muscle strength and tone and to help burn more calories and fat. However, this is optional or something that can be added once the HIIT is mastered.
6. Avoid drinking sugar or sugar drinks like soda, Gatorade or PowerAde for at least 2 hours after exercising as this will slow down or possibly halt the fat burning process.
7. Keep yourself well hydrated with water – a minimum of 2 quarts daily.
There are some extraordinary trainers at the local gyms that are a very good resource for you to help design a program that works best for you – not only for results but that you can also enjoy and look forward to. Starting a work-put program can be overwhelming and daunting to anyone – a session or two with these trained professionals can be helpful in overcoming that obstacle. As you strive to make 2013 your healthiest year, we wish you the best in your endeavors and support you 100%!
Renae Blanton, MSN, ANP is a Family Nurse Practitioner at Sonas Integrative Medical Center. She specializes in integrative family medicine with a focus on environmental issues such as lead toxicity, anti-aging, hormone balancing for men and women and chronic disease and illness. She can be reached at 970-247-2500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.