high intensity exercise

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The wisdom of setting the bar lower from a former Olympic hopeful

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After spending several hours in the gym the first week of the year, the man told me, “Six months from now I will be doing the butterfly across that pool”. I didn’t see the man the next week; in fact, I never saw him again. What good is an exercise program that requires several hours a week if you don’t stick to it? It is worse than useless if you are paying monthly bank drafts to the gym/collection agency.

From this NY Times article Advice From a Former Olympic Hopeful: Set the Bar Low - The New York Times some quotes:

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High intensity sprint training you can stick to

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With any exercise program if you set the bar too high you’ll likely quit. Set the bar lower and you are more likely stick to it and see more results in the long run.

One way to do sprint training that I have seen recommended and I have tried:  Warm up on an exercise bike or other aerobic equipment.  Then go as fast as you can for 30 seconds.  Recover at much slower RPMs for 90 seconds then repeat the cycle for a total of eight sprints. If you are truly going as fast as you can it will take a long time to acheive eight all-out sprints.  It is grueling. It took me months to build up to eight sprints. I had great results, but I absolutely hated it. I had a sense of dread whenever I would go into the gym to do it. I eventually quit. 

Trying to go as fast as you can is a euphemism for trying to withstand as much pain as you can. These sprints are difficult. Approaching spring training in this manner was, for me, a prescription for quitting.

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Short Effective Workouts

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From this article Short workouts: Will exercising for 15 minutes once a week get you fit?

“The key to the short workout’s success revolves around a concept known as high-intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT is a heightened form of interval training that involves alternating between periods of short, intense physical activity and fixed periods of low activity or rest. Intervals can include anything from fast squats and pushups to weight lifting and powerful cardio.”

The goal in exercise is expose the body to more than it is used to handling. If given enough time for recovery the body as a form of self-protection will come back stronger, more enduring, and more able to withstand the stresses previously placed on it. That can take one hour or two, or it can take less than ½ an hour. Regardless of the time period at the end the session you want to come out spent.

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Going All Out Again

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A series of injuries including a ruptured Achilles tendon resulted in nine month of no exercise - none. I didn’t even work for a couple of months. I started back lifting what I could handle and began a sprint training program three times a week on a stationary recumbent bike - 120 seconds warm-up followed by a 30 second all-out sprint followed by at 90 second easy recovery pace. Eventually I worked up to a total of eight sprints. If you can do more you are pacing yourself.

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High intensity activity affects fat loss

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From this study, Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity and Weight Outcomes: Does Every Minute Count? comes this quote:

"What we learned is that for preventing weight gain, the intensity of the activity matters more than duration," says Jessie X. Fan, professor of family and consumer studies at the U. "This new understanding is important because fewer than 5 percent of American adults today achieve the recommended level of physical activity in a week according to the current physical activity guidelines. Knowing that even short bouts of 'brisk' activity can add up to a positive effect is an encouraging message for promoting better health."

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HIT exercise lowers cognitive decline in older women

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From this study, Effects of aerobic exercise on mild cognitive impairment: a controlled trial this quote:

“Six months of high-intensity aerobic exercise had sex-specific effects on cognition… aerobic exercise improved performance on multiple tests of executive function, increased glucose disposal during the metabolic clamp, and reduced fasting plasma levels of insulin, cortisol, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor.”

The sixteen men in the study did not achieve the same positive cognitive results. They postulated that the difference was possibly because the body's use of and production of cortisol, insulin, and glucose differed in women and men. Regardless, the long list of positive changes resulting for high intensity exercise makes it worth the investment of one’s time.

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Studys Shows That HIT Exercise Lowers Blood Pressure

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From this study, High-intensity interval training and hypertension: maximizing the benefits of exercise?:

"Several studies have shown that high-intensity interval training (HIT), which consists of several bouts of high-intensity exercise (~85% to 95% of HRMAX and/or VO2MAX lasting 1 to 4 min interspersed with intervals of rest or active recovery, is superior to Continuous moderate-intensity exercise training CMT for improving cardiorespiratory fitness, endothelial function and its markers, insulin sensitivity, markers of sympathetic activity and arterial stiffness in hypertensive and normotensive at high familial risk for hypertension subjects. This compelling evidence suggesting larger beneficial effects of HIT for several factors involved in the pathophysiology of hypertension raises the hypothesis that HIT may be more effective for preventing and controlling hypertension."

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What Is Exercise Intensity?

Q: What is exercise intensity?

A: In simplest terms, it's how hard an exercise is at a point in time. The technical definition is the level of momentary exertion during exercise.

Q: Why is it important?

A: Exercise of sufficient intensity is necessary to stimulate the body to make a change. When the body is worked beyond what it is equipped to handle, the body adapts as a form of self-protection.

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