Do you have to be in good shape to tolerate high-intensity short interval training?
High/intensity short/interval training is a type of exercise that stresses the body hard for a very short period of time. In other words, it is hard exercise, but you don’t have to spend much time doing it.
That you don’t have to spend much time exercising appeals to most people, but you may wonder if you can tolerate it. Is it safe to exercise this way if you are not in great shape?
The reviewed research should answer that question, but make up your own mind after reading this.
It may surprise you that anybody would even try this with people in the shape that they were. The researchers took patients with signs of chronic heart failure and had one group do high/intensity short/interval training, and had another group do the regular continuous aerobic exercise training(Koufaki P et al. 2014).
The program lasted for 6 months and the participants were tested for cardiorespiratory fitness at the start and at the end.
Peak oxygen uptake, sit to stand and gait speed improved equality in both groups, no difference in results.
The researchers concluded that the training adaptations were achieved in the high intensity short interval training group despite a significant reduced time commitment and reduced work volume when compared to continuous aerobic exercise training.
There is really no reason to waist time exercising for a long period of time unless you enjoy the exercise itself. The high intensity training was also tolerated well.
Maybe it should not be a surprise that people with heart failure can exercise like this.
Years ago people were advised not to do any exercise after they had a heart attack, believing exercise would increase their risk for another heart attack. That has been changed because we know better now, that exercise is one of the things that will help prevent heart problems.
Can exercise be dangerous?
We have all heard that exercise is healthy and it is, but is it healthy for everybody and are all types of exercises healthy?
This is what you need to know.
When lifelong competitive endurance veteran athletes were compared with younger endurance athletes and control age-matched participants, they were found to have myocardial fibrosis which is abnormal changes to the heart muscle(Wilson M,et al. 2011).
This finding was significantly associated with the years spent training, the number of competitive marathons and ultra endurance marathons completed.
Keep in mind that this was hard endurance training and extreme endurance competition over a lifetime, it does not mean that exercise is not good, it just means that this type of activity does not seem to be the best.
Another study compared participants with coronary heart disease with different levels of physical activity(Mons U,et al. 2014). They found that participating in strenuous endurance exercises more than 5 hours per week increased cardiovascular mortality. Exercising less than twice per week also increased the risk.
What does this all mean? It means that it is important to be sure you get enough recovery time, and long hours of endurance training is not the best way of spending your time. You are more likely going to reap more benefits if you do high intensity, short interval training and include some resistance training the other days.
One of the important things to keep in mind is that recovery from the exercise is as important as the exercise itself. Without proper recovery it just adds stress.
Reduce your blood glucose with short breaks of physical activity.
Elevated blood glucose causes damage to tissue and can increase low grade inflammation which increases the risk for chronic diseases.
We have known for a long time that exercise helps to transfer the blood glucose into the cells, that way lowering the blood glucose.
As it turns out it does not take a lot of activity to do that. The reviewed research is interesting because it compared two approaches of activity during 9 hours of sitting(Peddie MC, et al. 2013).
The participants were 70 adults who were each given 3 meal replacement drinks during the 9 hours. On one occasion they walked for 30 minutes and were then sitting for 9 hours and on another occasion they were breaking up the sitting with walking for 1 minute and 40 seconds every 30 minutes.
The results showed that both blood glucose levels and insulin levels were reduced more when they walked for 1 minute and 40 seconds every 30 minutes as compared to continuous walking for 30 minutes.
In my experience, you don’t even have to spend that much time being active if you practice a certain type of activity.
I will be writing more about that in a future article.
Interesting reason why you may gain fat around your waist.
When you notice that you have gained fat around your waist, it usually also means that you have gained visceral fat.
Visceral fat is fat deposited around your inner organs, and is contributing to metabolic dysfunction and inflammation.
The reviewed research is very interesting because it investigated if there was a connection between an increase in waist circumference, visceral fat, and increased intestinal permeability (Gummesson A, et al. 2011). Intestinal permeability is a way to tell if we are absorbing particles into the blood that were not meant to be absorbed. The mucosal membranes of the intestinal tract are supposed to protect us from absorbing pathogens like bacteria’s and also large protein particles that were not meant to be absorbed. Our body will attempt to defend itself by triggering inflammation when we absorb particles that we are not meant to absorb.
In this study, waist circumference and intestinal permeability were measured, and computed tomography and dual energy X-Ray were also used. A positive correlation was found between waist circumference and intestinal permeability. Visceral fat and liver fat also correlated with increased intestinal permeability.
It is important to have normal intestinal permeability and a well functioning gastrointestinal tract for many reasons, and it may also help you in keeping your waist slim.
Click here to learn how to eat to support a healthy gastrointestinal tract.
A benefit of exercise you may not be aware of.
As we get older inflammation usually increases. You don’t necessarily have to get increased inflammation as you age, but that’s what’s been observed in a lot of people. You probably know that inflammation is a risk factor for most chronic diseases, it can also make you more uncomfortable because it can contribute to pain.
It would be great if you had a way to reduce inflammation without taking any medication. In fact there are ways you can do that, and instead of side effects you even get a lot of additional benefits.
Exercise is one of the things that can reduce inflammation. That is exactly what the reviewed study investigated, by looking at data from a lot of research on this specific topic(Woods JA, et al. 2012). Data on the participants activity level, as well as measurements of several inflammatory markers, were used.
As you may have guessed, exercise was found to reduce some of these inflammatory markers, especially highly sensitive C-reactive protein (hs-CRP).
One of the studies they looked at also investigated the effects of antioxidants on inflammation. They found that the participants who took antioxidants had reduced inflammation, even if they did not exercise(Colbert LH, et al. 2004).
The logical thing would be to both exercise and take antioxidants.
The most effective antioxidant the body makes is glutathione, but the problem is that it produces less of it as we get older, when we actually need more.
You can read more about this by clicking here.
Not all exercise burns fat equally.
Have you accepted this truism: that the more physically active you are, the less likely you are to gain weight? Here is the catch: not all exercise is equally effective when it comes to burning fat. The good news is you don’t have to exercise for several hours a day to make a difference.
The reviewed research is very interesting and the results may surprise you. Healthy young men were divided into three groups: one control group did not exercise, one group did moderate intensity exercise at 50 percent Vo2peak for 60 minutes, and one group did high intensity exercise, alternating 2 minutes at 90 percent Vo2peak with 2 minutes at 25 percent Vo2peak(Trombold JR, et al. 2013). The energy expenditure was the same for both exercise groups.
The participants were provided a test meal the morning after the exercises. Tests were performed fasting before the meal, and 2, 4, and 6 hours after the meal.
The results showed that even if the participant had similar energy expenditures the high intensity exercise was more effective in lowering triglycerides after the meal. The high intensity was also more effective in increasing fat oxidation which means the high intensity exercise burned more fat.