Does a busy schedule mean less time to exercise? We agree with John Wooden, the legendary coach of UCLA’s basketball team, who said: "Don't let what you can't do interfere with what you can do." What you can do is super-charge your workout by using interval training.
This quick workout technique varies the exercise intensity of the effort you put out and increases workout benefits. Try adding it to a walking program -- the most do-able way to get the benefits of physical activity (a stronger heart and immune system, a younger RealAge, and a happier outlook on life). The magic number is 10,000 steps a day or about 5 miles. Use interval training to achieve it!
Marc Gillinov, MD, and Steven Nissen, MD (Dr. Mike’s colleagues at the Cleveland Clinic), deliver the hows and whys of interval training in their information–packed new book, Heart 411. Here are their recommendations:
- Alternate periods of puff-hard-can’t-talk-effort with periods of recovery. If you're walking, step up the pace for 4 minutes, then take it down for 3 minutes. Repeat at least two to three times during the session. Check your fitness level by measuring your heart rate recovery.
- Alternate 1 minute of super-effort with 9 minutes of taking it slightly easier. You can find the interval that works for you, which may change as you become stronger. Find out how using lighter weights can help you flex stronger muscles.
- The same varied rhythm goes for any activity, from the backstroke (“Waiter, is that fly doing interval training in my soup?”) to the stationary bike. Learn some other great ways to add interval training to your exercise routine.
Interval training keeps every workout interesting and challenging, increases endurance, and maximizes oxygen usage -- all great for building muscles. You’ll also lower blood pressure, lose more weight,raise levels of HDL (healthy) cholesterol, and gain a more focused brain.