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.
Walk fast to get help with with weight loss.
Walking has been promoted as an easy way to lose weight and stay in shape, but is it really effective? That is exactly what the reviewed researched investigated.
The participants a total of 4511 adults aged 18-64 years were included in the study(Fan JX, et al. 2013). The body mass index (BMI) were measured and accelerometers were used to evaluate minutes per day of high intensity bouts of walking of either 10 minutes or more, or less than 10 minutes. This was compared with lower intensity walking of 10 minutes or more per day and lower intensity walking of less than 10 minutes per day.
It was found that both higher intensity short-duration or walking long-duration were related to reduced BMI or risk of overweight/obesity. Neither the short walks or the long walks of lower intensity were found to have a positive effect on BMI or risk of overweight/obesity.
The message is that even less than 10 minutes of walking per day can help you prevent weight gain if it is high intensity walking. This is another example showing that it is the intensity of the exercise you do that is important, not the time you spend doing it. The more intense you exercise, the less time you need to spend doing it.
Is extreme endurance training and competitions like marathons healthy?
No one can dispute that regular exercise is beneficial, but sometimes we tend to think that more is better.
The reviewed research investigated the effects of training for, and the participation in endurance competitions like marathon ultra-marathon, Iron-man distance triathlons and very long-distance bicycle racing (Patil HR, et al. 2012).
In veteran extreme endurance athletes the recurrent injury and repair to the heart muscle that occur in these athletes may essentially create arrhythmias.
Chronic excessive and sustained endurance exercise may be associated with diastolic dysfunction, large-artery wall stiffening and coronary artery calcification.
Don’t draw the conclusion that exercise is dangerous, and that it is better not to exercise, because that is not true. Most endurance athletes don’t even develop these conditions, but if you’re thinking about starting to run marathons for health reasons, you may want to rethink that and instead start to do high-intensity interval training. High-intensity interval training takes a lot less time, and has shown to provide numerous health benefits.