More evidence showing exercise intensity being of greater importance than exercise volume

A recent study (October 2012) published in the British Medical Journal has confirmed that that physical activity was important in reducing ‘Metabolic Syndrome’ risk (diabetes, heart disease, stroke, obesity, etc). The really interesting finding from the study of 10,000+ men/women was the suggestion that intensity of exercise was more important than volume of exercise in reducing this risk.

So what are the implications for all of us trying to improve/maintain our health?

While it is important to accumulate a reasonable volume of exercise each week (we suggest approx 3 hours/week to our clients), the intensity or quality of this exercise is really important to derive the maximum benefit from your time investment. Assuming that you have been given clearance from any medical conditions precluding you from hard exercise it seems that incorporating some aerobic interval training and some high intensity resistance training into your workouts will be really beneficial.

We all know that it it can be challenging to establish a sustainable exercise routine let alone push yourself really hard in each of these training sessions so what are the practical things you can do to increase your chances of increasing the intensity of your workouts?

  • Train with a friend, colleague or personal trainer – I have an obvious bias here but the reality is that most of us work harder with someone else. This may be because we feel a sense of ‘pressure’ to perform with someone else or because control/decision making is removed from us. In the case of a personal trainer it should also be because your trainer has the experience to understand your limits better than you do!
  • If you are a numbers person, get some data. Records of previous workout times, reps, levels are useful to provide personal benchmarks of achievement that will push you to go longer, faster, higher. This may simply involve documenting each workout or using a device such as heart rate monitor/power meter/GPS to provide you with data and keep a record of this.
  • Simply understanding the findings of this current research should help you to push hard! As your legs are screaming at you, understand the benefits that you are bringing to your health and enjoy!

-Kristin Lewis

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