Low Intensity Exercise vs. High Intensity Exercise


I was doing some studying and continuing ed stuff and something came up that I thought I'd address. I want to address it because it's an old-school fallacy. However I'm a little nervous that the result of reading it will be a bunch of interval training...which is not the point. So let me start by saying this. In all things - Balance.is.the.key.

Back in the 80's or so, besides having very large hair...many many many people (myself included) bought into the belief that low intensity, steady state cardio was the KEY to burning the most fat.

Not true.

Even though low intensity exercise burns the most fat calories, total calorie burning is HIGHER with a higher intensity workout. And total calories burned no matter WHERE those calories come from determines the amount of weight lost.

So. What does this mean? Does it mean that every workout that you do should be all out and super intense (thus the huge increase in HIIT - 'High Intensity Interval Training' popularity and Tabata training?) No. Should high intensity workouts be a part of your workouts at all? Well, that depends on what your goals are and what you're trying to accomplish.

Also - what does high intensity training look like to an overweight person? And what does it look like to an older person? And what does it look like for a person that is sedentary? And what does it look like for a person who is just trying to bring some wellness into their lives?

At the end of the day - High Intensity Training as shown on tv, as bought in dvds, as shown by athletes - may not be appropriate for all people.

The body is an amazing, miraculous machine that reponds pretty quickly to the forces put upon it. First, you have to determine what your goals are. THEN you decide your modalities to get toward your goals.

Do you want to be more toned? Do you want to be flexible? Do you want to be strong? Do you want to move your body for 20-40 minutes without stopping? Do you want to be able to move through your life without throwing your back out? Do you want to be healthy inside and out? Do you want to have a vital mind, body, spirit connection?

I suggest that unless you are training for something specific, that you consider that your answer to all of the above questions (in some shape or form that feels good for you) is YES.

Flexibility. Strength. Cardiovascular/respiratory Endurance. Mind, Body Spirit. And a happy by-product - a healthy Body Mass Index. These are the legs of the table of fitness. And if you consider all of these different and varied aspects to fitness to be important, you're going to have to take a multi-dimensional approach to your training.

What does that look like? 1) Do something in moderation every day - go for a walk, garden, go for a nice bike ride with your family, go sledding. 2) Once or twice a week breathe hard - walk fast, jog, ride your bike fast, climb hills. 3) Stretch yourself after you do these things for :15-:30 seconds - front of your legs, back of your legs, calves, side stretches, hug yourself, open your arms and stretch out your chest. Or go to YOGA, which combines stretchy, strength and mind-body-spirit! BAM. 4) Lift heavy things - do some pushups, squats, lunges, toe touches. 5) And finally breathe - get centered, stay in the present, live with your highest intention, be kind to yourself and others, love.

Balance, Balance, Balance. Peace, Sarah