Healthy Byte: Workout Smarter Not Longer

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What if you could get all the benefits of a sweaty bike ride and a trip to the weight room in 7 minutes?

There’s an app for that — and it’s the best one we saw this past year.

Originally envisioned by a personal trainer and an exercise physiologist, the 7-minute workout app builds on new research suggesting that short spurts of intense exercise can provide long lasting benefits comparable to longer, more grueling regimens.

Anyone can use the app — all it takes is a smartphone, a spare wall, and a chair.

The Workout

The 7-minute session (which was so successful it inspired the New York Times to release their own version of the app a few months after the original came out) consists of 12 relatively standard exercises like jumping jacks, sit-ups, and push-ups. Ten of them require nothing but your own body (you’ll need a chair that can support your weight for the other two).

times 7-minute workoutHere’s the Times app counting down: 18 more seconds of jumping jacks. Screenshot

Here’s the full set of exercises, which I tried out myself:

1. Jumping Jacks

2. Wall sits

3. Push-ups

4. Crunches

5. Step-up (on chair)

6. Squats

7. Triceps dips (on chair)

8. Planks

9. High knees/running in place

10. Lunges

11. Push-ups and rotations

12. Side planks

Between each exercise, you rest for 10 seconds.

Worth The Hype?

The workout is quick, unpleasant (in the way only a good workout can be), and came with some pretty quick results — I was slightly sore in two areas of my body that my 5-day-a-week yoga regimen hasn’t seemed to have reached. I also noticed a little bit of extra mental clarity and decreased anxiety (which is why I do yoga) immediately after the workout.

Another plus to the 7-minute-regimen: I live in a New York apartment with very little extra space, but I was nevertheless able to do the whole workout in a corner of my living room using just my phone, a yoga mat, and a fold-up chair.

A Few Caveats

7-minute workout times appThe Times app illustrates how to do a wall sit. Screenshot

As expected, the physical benefits didn’t seem to last quite as long as my 1.5-hour yoga sessions. While my heart raced and my mind cleared for a few minutes immediately after the workout, those side effects wore off within a few hours. I only did it twice, though, so perhaps if I committed to a daily 7-minute workout the benefits would persist.

Also, since this specific workout is so new, there are no long-term studies comparing its results to those of longer cardio and weight-training workouts. In general, though, the evidence researchers do have supports the benefits of high-intensity intervals, both in terms of building muscle mass and improving heart health.

Even for patients with coronary artery disease, short bouts of intense interval training were found to be more beneficial in helping them regain heart function than traditional, continuous workouts — though anyone with a heart condition should consult a doctor before trying a new exercise routine.

The Science

The workout is based on the idea of interval training, an exercise style of short, intense periods of exercise broken up by brief periods of rest. Despite being far less time consuming, an interval workout may actually be more beneficial than a comprehensive, hours-long bout of exercise, according to some research done in the past decade.

So instead of a grueling one-hour run followed by weight-lifting, for example, you can do several minutes’ worth of intense push-ups, squats, and jumping jacks for similar results.

That’s pretty significant considering that many of us skip working out because we feel we don’t have enough time, because the weather is bad, or because a gym membership is too expensive.

The Mayo Clinic endorses interval training, as does the American Council on Exercise. A 2012 study comparing two groups of runners — one who trained by doing traditional, continuous runs and another which did interval training — found both groups achieved nearly the same results (the only difference being that the interval trainers had better peak oxygen uptake, an important measure of endurance). And a recent study in the journal Diabetologia found that doing walking interval training — walking briskly for three minutes and resting for three minutes for an hour — helped people with diabetes control their blood sugar levels far better than simply walking at the same pace continuously.

The most important thing when doing interval training is committing as much effort as possible throughout the whole workout, making sure to push yourself. After all, each exercise only lasts 30 seconds.

Seven hellish minutes later, you’re done.

Originally Posted HERE

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Healthy Byte: Interval vs Marathon

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So you swore you’d run a marathon this year.

Good news: You can stop feeling guilty about not starting to train for it yet.

As it turns out, you can get some of the same benefits of long-distance running and other types of endurance training without ever passing the five-mile mark.

That’s right. Running fast and hard for five to 10 minutes a day can add years to your life, just as running for hours can. In fact, people who run for less than an hour a week — so long as they get in their few minutes of daily running — getsimilar benefits in terms of heart health compared with people who run more than three hours a week.

That finding squares with recent research showing that short bursts of intense exercise can provide some of the same health benefits as long, endurance-style workouts.

Marathoners, meet interval training
One of the most popular forms of the quick workout — and the one that has been studied the most — is interval training. Basically, you work yourself as hard and fast as you can for a few minutes, rest, then do it again.

The best part? It typically lasts between five and 10 minutes total. (There’s even a New York Times workout app based on the idea, called the 7-Minute Workout. More on that here.)

Despite consuming far less time than a marathon training session, an interval workout may actually be healthier in the long run (pun intended), according to some research done in the past decade.

A 2012 study comparing a group of runners who did traditional, continuous runs with a group of runners who did interval training found that both groups achieved nearly the same results. There was one small difference, though: The interval trainers had better peak oxygen uptake, an important measure of endurance.

And a recent study in the journal Diabetologia found that doing walking interval training — an hour of alternating between three minutes of brisk walking and three minutes of stopping — helped people with diabetes control their blood-sugar levels far better than simply walking at the same pace continuously.

Still not convinced?
Consider this: Distance running could actually be bad for you.

There’s some evidence to suggest that prolonged, intense exercise — such as the type necessary in the weeks and months before a marathon and in the race itself — can have some unhealthy side effects, from reduced immune function to digestive issues.

Working the body to its maximum, some research shows, can reduce the body’s natural ability to fend off upper-respiratory infections including colds and the flu. Short bouts of activity, on the other hand, improve immune function. Quick workouts appear to not only reduce your chances of getting sick, but also to reduce the severity of an illness when you do come down with something.

Up to 71% of long-distance runners also experience abdominal cramping and diarrhea. (The latter is so frequent that runners have a term for it: “runner’s trots,” aka “runner’s diarrhea.”) Many runners, even those without a history of it, experience acid reflux — a condition with effects like heartburn, indigestion, coughing, hoarseness, and asthma — during and immediately after a long run.

Here’s what it all comes down to: Whether you stick to a long-distance routine or opt for a quicker, daily exercise plan, it’s important to keep in mind that more is not always better.

Original Article Posted HERE

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