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Are you working out hard enough?

Research supports working harder during ones exercise, not necessarily longer will yield the best heart and health benefits.  Exercise intensity had a 13 times greater effect on systolic blood pressure (top number), a 3 times greater effect on diastolic blood pressure (bottom number) and a 4.7 times greater effect on waist circumference in men than did the duration of exercise.  Think quality over quantity! Also, good cholesterol (HDL) increased as a result of intermittent high intense exercise more so when compared to long slow duration exercise!  A 2007 study published in Circulation journal assessed the effectiveness of high intensity short burst training on patients who suffered heart failure.  The results showed it effective for reversing LV (left ventricle) remodeling, improving aerobic capacity and quality of life in patients with postfarction heart failure.  Then there is the 2005 study in journal of applied Physiology:  the subjects did a 2 week SBT program when they were re-tested their endurance level actually doubled.  The research reviewed here indicates shorter higher intensity exercise gives one health benefits in a shorter period of time! 

This is not to suggest that long, slow duration exercise is not beneficial, any exercise is good, period!   Your lungs shrink with age and one is battling against time and less lung/breathing power.   But by the time you have reached 20, things begin to change. You stop or did stop growing lung tissue and your lung capacity plateaus. After age 30, the alveoli that deliver oxygen to your blood begin to die.  By age 50, you have lost almost 50% of your lung capacity.  So, if one gets the flu below age 50 it is a lot easier to fight it, after age 50, it is harder to fight that is why the death rate or seriousness for people age 65 is higher; one/they simply do not have the lung capacity to fight the respiratory diseases as efficiently.

The research presented here suggests 85%-100% of maximum heart rate, basically having you gasping for air, if you can do the exercise for longer than a minute,  the intensity is not high enough relating to this reviewed research. Ironically, the more you tax your lung system and muscular system the better they become.  A lot different from conventional use of systems.  So, remember working as intense as you can for briefer periods as opposed to long and slow will reap you more heart/body health benefits than long and slow.  Once again, the research is not discrediting long slow aerobic exercise, not at all!  However, when time is a factor and overall general better health and body fat reduction are goals in the exercise equation think of working harder not necessarily longer.


J.D. Reber



IDEA fitness journal September 2009 pg.27-29