Thursday, 15 March 2012

HIT me baby one more time!

So, spring is on the doorstep and how are our fitness resolutions fairing, two and half months into the year? Personally I know that mine has been a mixed bag of good weeks and not so good weeks due to work and study deadlines.

One thing I have realised over the last year or so is that I am not good at motivating nor maintaining long periods of lengthy gym sessions. I like my visit to the gym to be short so stepped up the intensity instead. I have trained for a half marathon in the past but know that it just doesn't please my body to run miles and miles each week. I first started to realise short and intense workouts suited me when I embarked on Emilie's interval training plan that she has shared with you in earlier blogs. I lost weight, toned up and stayed fit without spending hours in the gym.

So where am I heading with this, I hear you say!? Well, then I watched the program 'the truth about exercise', and it made me realise that I wasn't imagining that I was still getting benefits even I was spending a 3rd less time in the gym. Three main things stood out for me from that programme; 1) the chair is a killer, 2) you can gain scientifically proven benefits from exercising for just 3 minutes a week and 3) 20% of the population are non-responders to exercise (with actually only 15% responding well to exercise and the rest somewhere in-between)!

So we all know sitting for long periods is bad for us, slowing everything down and making us less inclined to get up again! This information is not new. Now the 3 minutes of exercise a week, even though I am jubilant that this may be all I have to do, it takes double that time to get my gym kit on, so I would prefer slightly longer making use of it! The responder and non-responder statistics helped me breath a sigh of relief as I had always wondered why, during times in my life when I have committed to a high volume of exercise, that it was never particularly reflected in my weight or body shape and I would also lose the benefits very quickly if the level was not maintained.

The 3 minutes a week is called High Intensity Training (HIT) and even though still in it's research phase is having very good results with improved effectiveness of your body similar to doing a handful of hours a week of moderate exercises. The 3 minutes is 3 x 20 seconds of flat out, crazy, to exhaustion cycling - so the nod from the doctor before embarking on anything similar would be advisable if you have any concerns!

Personally I don't do as short a session as this but rarely spend more than 15-20 minutes doing cardio intervals, but work very hard so I am out of breath and close to muscle exhaustion.

I am no personal trainer, or sports scientist but I believe this TV program has opened the door for us to re-evaluate what is working and listen to our body - as everyone is different. This new research is now leading to a more individually tailored approach to exercise. This is fantastic and helps us understand why we can't achieve what the person on the next treadmill can but also that this is OK. So if you feel that you New Years exercise plan isn't quite hitting the mark, perhaps have a rethink, do some research and don't rule out trying a different approach.

'The truth about exercise' is on BBC iplayer and there are numerous research pieces out there on High Intensity Training (HIT).

Zen dog


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