|photo credit: asela|
Let me present a scenario that may be familiar to you. You've been walking three or four days a week and in the first couple of weeks you used to see great benefits from it. Maybe you lost a bit of weight, maybe you walked a little further this week than you did six weeks ago in the same amount of time. But lately you've noticed that the walking has become boring and you no longer see the results that you once did. This is because as new stress is introduced to the body it takes some time to adjust. In a sense, your brain is teaching your body how to cope, which can takes a lot of energy. Now it has learned your pattern, it has adapted to your gait and has figured out how to walk the way you do by using as little energy as possible.
So what do you do now? Sure, continuing the same walking routine won't harm you (in fact it is still doing a lot of good, but I'll leave that for another post), but don't you want to see results, burn more calories, and, dare I say challenge yourself? Well here's the good news. A simple change can turn your 30 minute walking routine into 30 minutes of calorie burning with added benefits. What I'm trying to get at is training technique called High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T). It's not a new concept, it's not a gimmick. H.I.I.T is a method of training wherein the participant exercises at a high intensity for an interval and couples in with an interval of low-moderate exercise.
Why would you do this? Studies have shown that low volume H.I.I.T can increase the use of fat as a fuel. In a study by Talanian et al. (2) it was shown that fat oxidation (what the fitness likes to call fat burning) increased by 36% after a two week H.I.I.T program. Furthermore, Nemoto, Masuki et al. (1) found in a 2004 study that H.I.I.T lowers blood pressure, increases leg strength (by 13% for knee extension and 17% for knee flexion) and increase peak aerobic capacity when compared to a steady-state moderate intensity exercise group.
What does all this mean? Essentially it means that by simply breaking your 30min walk into intervals of high intensity walking with intervals of low-moderate intensity walking you will burn more calories, as well as the added benefits of reduced blood pressure, increased endurance, and increased leg strength. This is particularly important for elderly people. An easy way to do this is to do 10 two minute intervals of hard walking (a good guide is walking fast enough so that you can still carry a conversation, but probably need a breath or two between some words) with one minute of low-moderate walking between each two minutes.
Any questions or comments let me know. I'll do my best to respond
(1)Nemoto K., Gen-no H., Masuki S., Okazai K. Nose H. (2007). Effects of high-intensity interval walking training on physical fitness and blood pressure in middle-aged and older people. Mayo Clinic Proc. 82(7): 803-11.
(2)Talanian JL, Galloway SD., Heigenhauser GJ., Bonen A., Spriet LL. (2007). Two weeks of high-intensity aerobic interval training increases the capacity for fat oxidation during exercise in women.