While fitness is about 80% nutrition and 20% exercise, we cannot forget that 20%. It is important to complement good eating habits with good exercise habits as well, in order to strengthen muscles, bones, anaerobic and aerobic systems. For a long time, running has been a “go-to” for people attempting to lose weight and “get in shape.” It burns a good amount of calories. But as you get more accustomed to it, the natural inclination is to add time to the run in order to continue reaping the benefits. The question is: Are we maximizing our efficiency AND GETTING THE HEALTH BENEFITS WE WANT? If we are, you have to wonder why there so many runners, even marathoners, who are overweight?
Trying to choose the best exercise is difficult, because everybody has a different theory. But there are some exercises that are more beneficial than others according the most recent information from exercise physiologists. Most experts agree that sticking to it, even if you do not spend hours working out, is the best thing you can do. In fact, contrary to the myth that the longer your workout the better it is for you, researchers today are saying the opposite. According to Timothy Church, M.D. at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, LA, “The majority of…the benefits from exercising are due to the first 30 minutes of exercise” (Reynolds). In other word, the easier it is for you to stick with it, the better it is for you.
Michael Joyner, M.D. and professor of anesthesiology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., believes that brisk walking is the single best exercise. There have been many studies that indicate that walking has been shown to aid substantially in weight control. For those who are new to exercise or just want to fit some exercise into their daily routine, walking could be your answer. Please be sure to check out our blog talk radio show with Ed Forteau, who has taken walking to a new dimension and avoided having a leg amputated in the process! LISTEN HERE
For those people who already exercise, however, walking may not hold much excitement. Stuart Phillips, Ph.D. and professor of kinesiology at McMaster University, talks about the benefits of squatting. “The squat ‘activates the body’s biggest muscles, those in the buttocks, back and legs. [. . .] It’s a very potent exercise’” (Reynolds). Weight training in general is good at combating the loss of muscle mass that each of us experiences as we age. But according to Phillips, if you are relying on endurance training, doing anything for long periods of time such as running or biking, you are still losing muscle. . Resistance training is also good for weight control. Despite these benefits, however, there is a lack of evidence that resistance training is an effective, all-purpose exercise approach. So what is the best way to workout?
Let me introduce you to the benefits of H.I.I.T., or high-intensity interval training. It typically consists of a series of very intense spurts of effort, followed by less intense or no exertion periods. It aids in increasing aerobic capacity, much more so than endurance training. That’s right, much more than long distance running or other endurance training! It also has been shown in research to reduce blood-sugar levels and the risk of diabetes, as well as aid in weight control.
The best thing other than the positive impact is that it takes significantly less time. Most people do not have hours to spend exercising during the week, making this approach perfect for our lifestyle. According to Martin Gibala, the chairman of the department of kinesiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, “there’s no particular reason why H.I.I.T. cannot be adaptable to almost any sport” (Reynolds). The only criticism of H.I.I.T. is that it builds muscular strength less efficiently than the squat or other resistance training methods. But there are remedies for this. Incorporating hill sprints or stair sprints give you the benefit of a power workout plus interval training.
But, you say, what about upper body strength? Got you covered there too. Another option is an H.I.I.T. weight training circuit for upper and lower body that involves a series of dynamic, body-weighted exercises with limited rest in between. This could be the perfect complement to any H.I.I.T. cardio circuit to reap the full benefits of exercise, with measurable results, again without wasting your time.
The thing to keep in mind is that these types of exercises are supposed to hurt; you will not get the desired results from giving only 60% effort as you may be accustomed to with traditional training. You must give 100% effort in order to push your body and get maximum results. This is really a no pain, no gain approach 🙂 The upside is a lot less time in the gym and a lot more time to live your life in good health.
Always remember: Eat clean, Commit to be fit, and Live your life wisely!
Dr. J. Renae Norton
For a complete article on “The Single Best Exercise,” see: