There’s good news on the fitness front. Studies show you can get heart healthy benefits and lose weight by increasing your lung power. Without spending hours at the gym.
In fact, you can see benefits in as little as 12 minutes a day.
As we explained on Tuesday, duration training – like long distance runs – can put serious strain on your heart.
But that doesn’t mean you should swear off exercise. The right kind of exercise can help you lose weight, balance hormones, and improve your overall health.
This kind of exercise used to be reserved for elite athletes. They used it to increase their fitness. But it works for anyone. No matter what shape you’re in.
And studies show it’s more beneficial than traditional cardio.
A New Kind of Exercise for a New Year
The reason it’s so effective is because it helps you increase your lung power. In traditional cardio you exercise at the same pace for a long time. Say 60 minutes or more. But new science shows that’s not the best way to get in shape.
Proponents say it works because it increases lung capacity. You’re taking in more oxygen. That pumps more blood through your heart and your veins. And that gives you more energy.
Plus, it boosts your metabolism… so you burn more fat.
And if that isn’t enough, your greater lung power powers up your immunity so you’re able to ward off colds and other viruses and infections. Just imagine going through the entire winter without picking up a single sniffle.
In short, it blows the notion of spending an hour a day or more to stay in shape to the curb.
One study from Canada’s McMaster University calls it high-intensity interval training (HIIT). They confirm other studies that this form of exercise works as well as – or better than – traditional cardio.
The Science Behind Sprint Training
Here’s how it works.
Imagine a sprinter. When the sprinter leaves the finish line he’s running all-out for a few seconds, maybe a minute. When he gets to the finish line, he’s bent over gasping for air.
He’s panting because he used up all the oxygen he had. That’s called the oxygen debt.
By gulping for air, he’s replenishing his oxygen source. And here’s where it gets interesting.
He’s increasing his endurance. He’s bringing in more oxygen than he had before. That enlarges his lungs. And pushes more oxygen-filled blood through his muscles. The result? His lung capacity increases. That gives him more energy to complete all the tasks in his life.
Plus, he burns fat long after he’s done sprinting.
You don’t have to sprint to get the benefits. You can walk, run, or ride a bike to reap the rewards. And it doesn’t matter how out of shape you are now.
“We have shown that interval training does not have to be ‘all-out’ in order to be effective,” says Professor Martin Gibala. He heads exercise research at McMaster University. “Doing 10 one-minute sprints on a stationary bike with about one minute of rest in between, three times a week, works as well as many hours of conventional long-term biking.”
Try It for Yourself
Here’s how you can lose weight and get fit in 15 minutes a day.
Choose an aerobic activity – cycling, running, walking, whatever you like. And perform short bursts of high intensity activity… followed by slower periods of rest.
For example, let’s say you’re on a treadmill.
If you’re just starting out, you walk slowly for three minutes followed by fast walking for two minutes and repeat the cycle 3-4 times. As you get fitter, you build up the intensity.
So that eventually you start out walking fast in the first minute. Then minute two you run. Minutes 3-5 you walk and let your heart rate come down. Minute six – run fast! Then walk for the next three minutes. Kick up the intensity again at minute 11 and walk in the last minute to cool down.
The University of Pittsburgh also did a study. They compared people doing two types of exercise. One group did 15 minutes of sprint training. The other did traditional 60-90 minute exercise programs.
They found the sprint group stuck with their exercise program longer. Even better? They lost more weight.
Putting Sprint Training into Practice
One well-known advocate of high intensity training is Dr. Al Sears. He’s the creator of the PACE program. PACE stands for Progressively Accelerating Cardiopulmonary Exertion. And he’s a huge believer that anyone can lose weight and improve their health by working in small increments.
He’s worked with many patients to implement this type of training into their daily lives.
In fact, he says one of his patients could only walk for 45 seconds when she started!
He says it works because short bursts of intense exercise are more natural than hours of walking or running on a treadmill.
And people who have tried this type of training love it.
Here’s just one response:
“I have lost 17 pounds over 9 months. I have not changed my diet: I’ve used PACE. I love being in and out of the gym in such a short time.”
– David A., Sydney, Australia
In fact, Dr. Sears has taken the idea of interval training to a new level. PACE is more scientific because it combines the advantages of short duration exercise, rest, AND progressivity… which most interval programs don’t pay attention to.
Plenty of other experts agree. They say 15 minutes a day is all you need to improve your health and drop unwanted pounds.
Dr. Sears put together a thoroughly-researched report on diet, exercise, and weight loss. It’s filled with guidance and suggestions for implementing your own healthy living plan.