Are Long or Short Workouts Best For Weight Loss?
A new CDC report says only 20.6% are meeting the weekly recommended Physical Activity Guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activity. Lack of time is commonly cited as a barrier to working out regularly, but that excuse may no longer be valid. If you're trying to optimize your health and promote overall fat reduction, short bursts of exercise may be just as good as longer endurance workouts.
Get More Out Of Shorter Workouts
When it comes to increasing your endurance, improving your risk factors for disease, or the all-important fat-burn, both short high-intensity workouts and long endurance-based training have a similar effect. A recent study in the Journal of Physiology compared the effects of a 6-week program on aerobic capacity and fat storage. Just 4-6 30-second sprints interspersed with 4.5 minutes of very low-intensity cycling three days a week, increased the usage of fat stores, insulin sensitivity, and aerobic capacity similar to hour-long workouts 5 days a week. While the longer, less intense workouts did show better improvements overall, the sprint-interval training took up only 30% of the workout time and wasn't too far behind.
When Longer is Better
For some, a shorter workout session is good news, but there is a fear related to going all-out for older and obese Americans. Rightfully so, those who are sedentary are not familiar with the strenuousness of sprints: the heavy breathing, racing heart, and intense fatigue that it creates could make someone want to stop a workout all together. Not to mention, cause injury.
However, there are benefits to a longer, slower workout, too! Though sprint and high-intensity workouts do increase your fat-burning capacity both during and after workouts, longer workouts will burn more calories overall. The simple reason is more time being active.
The Bottom Line
Longer, lower impact workout might lead to less stress on the body and result in fewer injuries for people just starting to exercise. Shorter workouts are great for increasing fitness and lowering the risk factors of chronic disease. But, they could also lead to rapid fatigue that could push some toward over-training which might cause discouragement for a person new to exercise. The bottom line is any exercise is good, moderate to high-intensity exercise of pretty much any length is good for you, and when it comes to calorie-burning, even if it needs to be slower, more is better.
Below is a short, 20 minute workout and a long, 60 minute workout for you to try. Take mental notes of how each made you feel and record your body’s reaction after you complete them. Use this information to determine what works best for you and create your weekly workout regimen accordingly.
Workouts By Kim Fleming
THE SHORT, HIGH-INTENSITY WORKOUT
Grab a sheet of paper and create 3 columns. Label the columns Round 1, Round 2, and Round 3. Pick 6 exercises that challenge you. They can be cardio or strength training exercises. (Some examples are Squat Jacks, Dumbbell Rows, Pushups, Squat Kicks, Mountain Climbers, and Frog Leaps)
Here Is What You Do
1. Complete all 6 exercises as many times as you can (until you can’t do anymore) and write down how many you did in the “Round 1″ column.
2. Take a 1 minute break (NO MORE THAN ONE MINUTE).
3. Complete all 6 exercises again as many times as you can and write down how many you did in the “Round 2″ column.
4. Take a 1 minute break (NO MORE THAN ONE MINUTE).
5. Complete all 6 exercises again as many times as you can and write down how many you did in the “Round 3″ column.
THE LONG ENDURANCE-BASED WORKOUT
After you warm up and stretch for 10 minutes, set a timer for 45 minutes. Go on a 45 minute treadmill run, outdoor run, or bike ride. After every 3 minutes or running (or riding) at a medium pace stop and complete 1 minute of any of the following isometric body weight drills.
End your workout with a 5 minute walk for cool down and 5 minutes of stretching.
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