Friday, February 25, 2011

Will tries interval training

Lately I've been doing some high-intensity interval training, where "high" takes into account that I'm a baby boomer with a desk job. If you have my sort of Homer-Simpson-esque physique, then start with things you can do without injury, not what the 18-year-old neighbor can do without injury. ObDisclaimer: Talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise regimen.

Studies (1, 2) conclude that brief interval training periods two or three times per week, totaling just a few minutes of high-intensity exercise per session, can produce benefits similar to those from tedious 90- to 120-minute aerobic Jane Fonda workouts. The clearly measurable part appears to be that you can bump up the oxygen usage of your muscles, which means that your muscle mass has increased as has the number of mitochondria. Interval training also causes your muscles to continue burning extra calories for several hours following your workout (1, 2, 3). If I leave my heart-rate monitor on, I see that my heart rate remains mildly elevated long after I've stopped.

After about a month of doing this, I haven't seen any visible shrinkage of my midsection, but I've definitely got better stamina. I have a much easier time climbing stairs or getting up from sitting on the floor. All my exercise has been lower body, to take advantage of the larger muscles, but I'm pretty sure I've gained strength in my upper body as well.

I think I would benefit faster if I were more careful with my diet. I keep thinking about cutting back on carbs, maybe I'll actually do that. Silly to put in the trouble to exercise and not add the piece that would actually allow me to lose some body fat. Sillier still to regard interval training as a license to eat donuts.

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