Healthy Byte: 20 Second Boosts

ORIGINALLY POSTED HERE

Eating Well

Doing a Micro Workout Can Boost Fat Metabolism By 43%—Here’s How to Do It

Karen Asp August 16, 2021·3 min read

Turns out, there might be another solution for staying healthy when it feels like you don’t have time to exercise. The evidence for short bursts of activity has been mounting for some time. (Remember the 7-minute workout?) But now there’s research showing that even really small sessions can have bona fide benefits. They’re called exercise snacks. “And they’re somewhere between that short walk to the water cooler in pre-pandemic times and high-intensity interval training,” says Scott Lear, Ph.D., the Pfizer/Heart and Stroke Foundation Chair in Cardiovascular Prevention Research at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver. Think: challenging enough to jack up your heart rate, but only a minute or less at a time—such as 20 seconds of squat jumps, stair climbing, burpees or a fast 60-second run down your block.

These short-and-sweet exercise snacks help build cardiorespiratory fitness, a major indicator of overall health. “Increasing your cardiorespiratory fitness can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease,” says Martin Gibala, Ph.D., a professor of kinesiology at McMaster University in Ontario. One study Gibala was involved in, published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, had inactive young adults do 20-second bike “sprint snacks” in which they pedaled as fast as they could. Participants repeated these mini workouts three times a day, each separated by one to four hours of rest. After six weeks, their cardiorespiratory fitness improved by 9%—similar to the 13% increase a second group got by doing the same sprints within longer 10-minute cycling sessions. Other research published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that sedentary but healthy women improved their cardiorespiratory fitness by doing just 20 seconds of vigorous stair climbing three times a day for three weeks. “The precise reasons why exercise snacks work has yet to be determined, but they may improve the heart’s pumping capacity and ability to transport oxygen throughout the body,” says Gibala. They also appear to improve markers of insulin sensitivity and lower triglycerides.

Current exercise guidelines call for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week (or a combination of the two), which is a far cry from what you’d get from an exercise snack. But doing a few micro workouts can be a good alternative for those days you can’t fit in your regular routine. “The message now is anything is better than nothing, and every little bit counts,” says Gibala.

No matter your fitness level, exercise snacks are an option for everyone. While inactive people stand to gain the most from them, Gibala says that even gym-going folks with desk jobs can reap the rewards. “Structured daily exercise doesn’t negate the harmful effects of sitting for much of the day,” he explains. “So these snacks can help break up sedentary periods.”

Preliminary research suggests that among people who typically sit for eight hours per day, those who completed five 4-second cycling sprints every hour during the workday (for a total of 160 seconds of exercise) had 31% lower triglyceride levels and 43% higher body-fat metabolism the next day. How’s that for a satisfying snack?

Healthy Byte: Turn Fitness Goal to Lifetime of Good Health

NOTE: If you are like me and you simply don’t like to exercise then perhaps finding something that you “love” may be too far of a stretch. Try finding something that you don’t hate and can be consistent with and you may just end up with something you can tolerate for the long term. 🙂

While you’re working on your fitness resolutions, let’s clear up a few misconceptions:

●Your weight will fluctuate, even after hitting that feel-good goal. It happens to everyone, even elite athletes.

●At some point, you will hit a plateau.

●Your running pace will regress after initial gains.

●You will get stuck on a weight-lifting benchmark.

None of this means your work is done and you should quit. In fact, it means the work is just beginning.

Many people who accomplish short-term goals get a rush of achievement in the moment but don’t create the behavioral changes needed to maintain and improve, said Tom Raedeke, a professor of kinesiology at East Carolina University who specializes in exercise psychology. “Somehow, we have to help people go beyond . . . just meeting the New Year’s resolutions or just accomplishing this goal,” Raedeke said.

MAKE YOUR SYSTEM WORK FOR YOU

The main difference between an average adult and a high-level athlete isn’t a lack of talent or willpower but rather a lack of a system.

Sam Zizzi, professor of exercise and sports psychology at West Virginia University, points out that athletes succeed because of the infrastructure created for them: coaches and trainers, set practice times, and a methodical approach to nutrition.

All that’s left for them is to, well, just do it.

The vast majority of adults, however, do not have that in place.

“We’re competing with a wide variety of priorities, and things kind of get lost in the mix,” Zizzi said. Individuals have to either make their fitness goals a top priority and pivot their life to accommodate that goal, or merge a goal with something or someone that already is a top priority.

“There’s not this coherent goal where everyone is on board with you walking 10,000 steps a day,” Zizzi said. “You have to put the structure in place. You have to hold yourself accountable.”

Creating that structure takes accountability and support, something Evan Hakalir is building for himself. Hakalir, a 35-year-old New Yorker, lost 70 pounds in his early 20s and was physically active. During the Great Recession, he lost his real estate equity job and decided to start a new children’s clothing line, Andy & Evan, with his partner.

“With a baby on the way, I felt, ‘Oh my God, this has gotten out of control,’ ” Hakalir said. “So instead of buying the larger suit size, I decided to recommit myself to being fit.”

To keep himself accountable, Hakalir joined Weight Watchers. Wanting to use the in-person weigh-ins (and the embarrassment of a bad weigh-in) as initial motivation, he’s instead found a supportive environment.

“What I actually found were nice, like-minded people of all shapes and sizes who were on this journey. Some were much thinner than I ever was, and some were heavier. They all were on this lifelong struggle of staying healthy and fit,” Hakalir said.

Zizzi said making a plan is key. He encourages his clients to have a Plan A and a Plan B so they are prepared when life intervenes.

Raedeke recommends that individuals focus on planning an activity with details a reporter wants to know: the who, what, when, where and how. Instead of saying, “I want to walk more,” make a plan: “I will walk one mile every Monday and Wednesday at 1 p.m. with my co-worker.”

An action plan shifts the “Why?” from the outcome to the process.

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CULTIVATE CONFIDENCE

Just as in other areas of life, competency is a key marker when it comes to long-term health. “People are very good at their jobs and feel good and competent as a parent, but they don’t feel competent as a healthy person,” Zizzi said. “We invest and take time to do things we are good at.”

With his clients, Raedeke starts by finding out whether they have been successful in making a change in the past. “If you have, what things helped? Then, I know right away I can build on what’s worked for them in the past. It can be something unrelated to diet, but what worked for them may work for diet and exercise,” Raedeke said.

To keep the momentum going, you have to be dedicated to educating yourself (perhaps taking a healthful-cooking class or hiring a personal trainer) and to experimenting.

“Even when I first started out in my journey, I’ve had confidence to try things. I started out with workout videos, and now I have more of an idea about what I can do,” Williams said. “And I had a personal trainer a few years ago, and it was extremely helpful to get me comfortable with the gym.”

When the weight fluctuates or the running pace slows, people often get discouraged and give up or overcompensate in training, which can lead to burnout and injury. Self-sabotage is the pathway to undercutting confidence. Raedeke said individuals start viewing the regression “as a failure and also a reflection of their underlying ability versus it’s just a process.”

Understanding the science and psychology behind fitness regression and plateaus — even understanding that plateauing is a natural component of getting stronger and faster — can save a person a lot of frustration.

Experimentation not only combats boredom but also allows short-term goals to grow into long-term behavior. Williams said her goals evolved from losing weight to being healthier to becoming stronger, an activity Williams said is particularly hard for women.

Women are “fine doing a group fitness class but shy away from lifting weights, and I’ve heard so many say, ‘I want to get into weights, but I don’t know how. I’m too embarrassed.’ That’s frustrating for me,” Williams said.

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DO WHAT YOU LOVE

In 2012, Mike Stollenwerk, a Philadelphia-based chef, made the decision to get healthy.

On a friend’s advice, he took up the martial arts discipline of muay thai. “The first month was hard because you don’t see results right away,” Stollenwerk said. “I couldn’t do a push-up, I couldn’t do a pull-up, I couldn’t jump rope. I was really out of shape. After the first two to three months, I started seeing results. I lost 10 pounds. It was getting exciting.”

In a year, Stollenwerk lost 160 pounds and was going to muay thai five days a week. But life intervened: He was in the process of opening a new restaurant in Philadelphia, which consumed the majority of his time and disrupted his eating schedule of six small meals a day.

Stollenwerk had to cut back on his hobby because it didn’t fit his schedule. As a supplement, he took up hot yoga because it “keeps the chi correct and keeps you feeling good.” It also fit his schedule; he goes to hot yoga at 6 a.m., then goes to work. Now that the restaurant, 26 North, is up and running, he’s looking forward to working more muay thai back into his weekly routine.

A sense of enjoyment is key to staying motivated for the long haul, Raedeke said. “If they can grit through it for a week or two, that’s not a lifestyle change.”

Ultimately, the goal of living healthfully is to find meaning and to embrace, rather than fight, all the peaks and valleys.

“In the process, there’s going to be natural fluctuations, and it’s part of the journey,” Raedeke said. “And the delicate nature is how to help people find meaning in the process of change, not just the outcome.”

Originally Posted HERE

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