March 2019 – Try a New Move

March 2019 – Try a New Move

“Snack” on Exercise

One of the most commonly cited reasons for not keeping physically active is just not having time. If this doesn’t apply to you, congrats! You’ve beaten one massive hurdle to regular physical activity. If it does, scientists have thoroughly investigated a style of exercise called high-intensity interval training, or H.I.I.T. (pronounced “hit”), which involves short intervals of all-out, maximum effort exercise flanked by longer bouts of lower intensity exercise. For example, a H.I.I.T workout could be repeated intervals of cycling as fast and as powerfully as possible for 20 seconds, then cycling at a slow, relaxed pace for 60 seconds until you’ve cycled for a total of 15-20 minutes. These workouts come in many forms (find free full H.I.I.T. workouts here) and can last minutes to hours, but if you truly give your all during the high-intensity portions, you likely won’t last very long!

Compelled by the concept of trading exercise duration for intensity, researchers have coined the term exercise “snacks” to describe ultra-short bouts of all-out effort activity deliberately dispersed throughout the day. They’re called “snacks” because they’re perfect for supplementing a balanced physical activity routine like food snacks supplement regular balanced meals. With exercise “snacks,” you could significantly improve your heart’s efficiency in less time than a restroom break! Improving your cardio-respiratory fitness will also make daily activities like walking, cleaning, and cooking feel like they require less effort. But exactly how short can you go?

Positive effects on cardio-respiratory fitness have been demonstrated with as little as 60-180 seconds of high-intensity activity just a few times throughout the day. Cardio-respiratory fitness refers to your body’s ability to transport and efficiently utilize oxygen. Having moderate to high cardio-respiratory fitness reduces the risk of all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality in both men and women, independent of age, ethnicity, weight status, and other health conditions. Wow!

The following super-short H.I.I.T. workouts were tested in previously inactive, but otherwise healthy adult females. So, if you’re already a regular exerciser, you might not experience the same cardio health benefits compared to someone who rarely exercises. Regardless, try one of the science-based, super-short H.I.I.T. workouts below to elevate your heart rate and increase focus and productivity at any time of day. Remember to check with your doctor to make sure you’re cleared for exercise before beginning. When performing stair climbing exercises, use a handrail as necessary. Follow the workout structure outlined in the research by performing these mini-workouts at least three times per week.

Workout 1: For at home

  • Warm-up: 2 minutes walking on flat ground at a brisk pace.
  • High intensity: 60 seconds climbing up and down the stairs as fast as possible taking one step at a time.
  • Low intensity: Recover by walking for 2 minutes on level ground.
  • High intensity: 60 seconds climbing up and down the stairs as fast as possible taking one step at a time.
  • Low intensity: Recover by walking for 2 minutes on level ground.
  • High intensity: 60 seconds climbing up and down the stairs as fast as possible taking one step at a time.
  • Cooldown: 3-minute walk on level ground at your own pace.

Workout 2: For the office (or any stairwell with 3+ flights of stairs)

  • Warm-up: 2 minutes walking on flat ground at a brisk pace
  • High intensity: 20 seconds climbing up the stairs as fast as possible taking one step at a time. Aim for about 60 steps total.
  • Low intensity: Recover by walking for 2 minutes down the stairs or on level ground.
  • High intensity: 20 seconds climbing up the stairs as fast as possible taking one step at a time. Aim for about 60 steps total.
  • Low intensity: Recover by walking for 2 minutes down the stairs or on level ground.
  • High intensity: 20 seconds climbing up the stairs as fast as possible taking one step at a time. Aim for about 60 steps total.
  • Cooldown: walk on level ground for 3 minutes.

Workout 3: Exercise “snack” version (do in any stairwell with 3+ flights of stairs)

  • Warm up: 10 jumping jacks, 10 air squats, 5 lunges each side (10 total).
  • High intensity “snack”: 20 seconds climbing up the stairs as fast as possible taking one step at a time. Aim for about 60 steps total.
  • Cooldown: 1-minute walk on level ground at your own pace.
  • Rest a minimum of 1 hour to a maximum of 4 hours. After resting, repeat the circuit two more times throughout the day.

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