One of the biggest things in exercise right now is interval training. And a number of studies have shown that it can be more effective than steady-pace aerobic exercise for getting you in shape.
Besides increasing your endurance and stamina, interval training can improve insulin sensitivity and diminish that abdominal spare tire.
That’s a good thing, since visceral fat (the type of fat found around your organs) is linked to metabolic syndrome. In point of fact, interval training can be helpful for anyone who wants to drop a few pounds.
So what is interval training?
Jackie Shahar, MEd, RCEP, CDE, Manager of the Exercise Physiology Department at Joslin Diabetes Center, says interval training involves bursts of high intensity work alternating with periods of recovery at lower intensity. The alternating pace works both the aerobic and anaerobic systems.
Why Is It So Good?
When you move quickly between high and lower intensity activity, your muscles don’t have time to adapt, so any change in speed or intensity during the workout requires more energy from your muscles. Working at higher intensity, even for shorts period of time, also helps you burn more calories. And it gives your workout more variety and thus makes it more interesting.
Next Question—How Do I Go About This?
A number of exercises lend themselves to interval training, for example, walking, running, swimming, stationary biking (spin classes) and using the elliptical trainer.
BUT BEFORE YOU BEGIN, REMEMBER:
- Check with your health care provider before starting an exercise program.
- Don’t forget to warm up with at least five minutes of low intensity walking or jogging.
- And always check your blood glucose before and after exercise to make sure you are in a safe zone.
Then it depends on what shape you are in.
Start at a pace that you can handle and that is enjoyable. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, you’ll have a much harder time sticking with it.
You might start with relatively short bursts at your maximum capacity (that’s where you would feel winded)—say, for 30 seconds, and then drop to 50% of this for the next 90 seconds. (This is the recovery period).
You might begin by repeating this sequence for 15 minutes and work your way up to doing it for 30 minutes to an hour.