Tuesday, June 25, 2013

When it Comes to Exercise What the Heck Should You Do?

The Seven Minute Workout stole headlines last month.  (It is kind of awesome)

Courtesy: Wallsave.com
Then this Sunday's New York Times said it's all about four minutes.

Here's a quick excerpt from the story: 

Half began a supervised exercise program that reiterated the Norwegian researchers’ former routine. After briefly warming up, these volunteers ran on a treadmill at 90 percent of their maximal heart rate — a tiring pace, says Dr. Tjonna, at which “you cannot talk in full sentences, but can use single words” — for four four-minute intervals, with three minutes of slow walking between, followed by a brief cool-down. The entire session was repeated three times a week for 10 weeks.

The second group, however, completed only one four-minute strenuous run. They, too, exercised three times a week for 10 weeks.

At the end of the program, the men had increased their maximal oxygen uptake, or endurance capacity, by an average of 10 percent or more, with no significant differences in the gains between the two groups.

What about 30 minutes of exercise a day most days of the week?  Isn't that what doctors tell you to do?


 
Crossfit gyms and spinning studios are the 2013 version of the cupcake craze.  They're popping up everywhere from urban street corners to the burbs.

There's pilates, barre burn classes and boxing studios.  The options are endless.  Suggestions as to how much and when you should exercise are more confusing than a Kardashian family tree. 

So what should you do?  Here's my take culled over 25 years of exercising, playing sports, gaining weight, losing weight and keeping it off for more than a decade.

The majority of us aren't professional athletes and don't have to look a certain way for our jobs.  I'm talking about models who need a certain amount of body fat to show off their abs or TV sportscasters trying to fight off backfat bulge.  Damn those camera angles!

In general, a brisk 30 minute walk on most days of the week really is awesome.  Sometimes that's all you can do.  Drink too much the night before?  This will help.

The cool thing is that once you get in a bit better shape, you will want to do more.  Some days you might intersperse that walk with a few shorts bursts of running.

Heck, you might even skip. You'll see me doing that all over Dallas on days following a strenuous leg workout when I'm walking the baby and the dog.  I like it.  It's good exercise.  Don't judge.

You might progress to something more challenging:
  • a class at the gym
  • a free Nike Training Club workout
  • a weight lifting program
  • the aforementioned Crossfit, spinning, pilates, barre burn, boxing, whatever
Some workouts will be more intense than others.  Some will be easier.

Make sure you stretch, those of us who sit at desks all day need to stretch our back, legs and hips.

Do this MOST days of the week.  I'm talking four to five.  Make the commitment and you will notice a positive impact. 

The bottom line: do what works for you but at least do something.  Exercise is an awesome game-changer that WILL change your life in the very best way. 

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