TIME TO BRING OUT THE ATHLETE IN YOU: THE DAY TO DAY BENEFITS OF INTERVAL TRAINING
Recently there has been more research trying to delineate the overall benefits of HIGH INTENSITY TRAINING, or “INTERVAL TRAINING”. While this type of training has long been utilized to improve athletic performance, there is more and more research to indicate how it benefits our general health and wellbeing.
The GOOD NEWS-if done well, you do not have to spend as much time exercising to get improved benefits, The NOT AS GOOD NEWS-you have to work harder for short bursts to get the enhanced benefits. This however, can add a layer of interest to your workouts.
First, the definition of HIGH INTENSITY TRAINING, is training or exercising in a heart rate zone that is above your aerobic zone and can be as intense as a maximal effort. There are 2 ways to get a good estimate of this zone. 1. Figure out your estimated MAX HEART RATE: (220-your age). A maximal effort should be 90-95% of your max heart rate, a high intensity or vigorous pace is at 60-85% of your max heart rate, and a moderate aerobic intensity is considered 50-60% of max HR.
The other scale that can be used is the Perceived Exertion scale:
Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale
1 Very Very Easy
2 Very Easy
3 Easy –may be in aerobic zone
4-5 SOMEWHAT HARD –may be aerobic or into high intensity zone
6-7 Hard –High intensity zone
8 Very Hard High intensity-max effort zone
9-10 Very Very Hard –max effort zone
For a more accurate assessment of your personal max HR, there is a VO2 Max test that utilizes a full-blown exercise physiology lab. For a good assessment that is not quite as sensitive as the VO2 max, but provides you with a better estimate than the above, a “SUB MAX” test can be performed by a trained professional on a treadmill.
There is evidence that indicates the following benefits for a program that incorporates “High Intensity Training” HIT.
· Reduction in c-reactive protein (an inflammatory marker) in post STENT patients
· Evidence to suggest improved outcomes with cardiac STENTS.
· Reduction of visceral abdominal fat VS. lower intensity training group
· Improvement in VO2 max at a significantly higher rate than the moderate intensity group.
· Improved capacity for muscles to utilize oxygen.
· Decreased blood pressure.
· Improved production of neuro cells-(i.e. brain cells)
· Evidence to suggest that High Intensity Training reduces stress related hormones, that are linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, autoimmune related diseases.
It is still unclear exactly what the best parameters are regarding duration and time, however, improvement has been seen in intervals done for as short as 30 seconds.
If you are already involved in a fitness regime, it is quite simple to add intervals. Choose 3 days per week that you would like to do an interval workout. You can continue with the same activity that you have been doing. Bring a stopwatch.
· 5’ warm up at a lower intensity MAX HR 50-60%, or RPE of 3
· 30”-1’ of HIT (begin with HR at 60-85% MAX, or RPE of 6-8
· 3-5” of “recovery”, (50% MAX HR, RPE 3)
· Repeat steps 2,3 X 4-5 times
· 5’ cool-down
· You can increase the intensity by upping the time of the HIT up to 5’ (if you do that increase the recovery to 5’), or you can gradually increase your max HR up to 95% Max HR, or 8-10 on the RPE scale
If you have not been a regular exerciser, begin with lower intensity exercise until you can tolerate 30’ 5X/week. Also check with your primary care provider prior to starting an exercise regime or making changes. If you are working with a Personal Trainer and are interested in beginning an interval program, make sure to review your health history.
Don’t forget that lower intensity exercise continues to have many health benefits, but if you would like to reap even more of the benefits, interval training may be for you.