Why High Intensity May be the Only Way to Exercise

Exploring Intensity

Why High Intensity May be the Only Way to Exercise

A new meta-study, at first glance, is absolutely devastating. It says that the recommended 30 minutes a day of a exercise that is recommended by the American Heart Association and others may be a little inadequate. Okay, it may be seriously inadequate.

As in, you may need 60 minutes or even two hours every day.

Looking at studies on nearly 400,000 men and women showed that 30 minutes had only a meager effect on their heart health, and in fact only those who cranked up their daily regimens to something around twice to four times as much work showed a satisfactory increase in cardiovascular fitness. That is quite a difference in how someone would spend their day, and for all of the talk of how we can all fit in a good workout, this would clearly throw a wrench in that.

But there are three important caveats.

There are limitations to the study, and the results far from conclusive, so don’t quit your job just to spend more time training.

Secondly, in a country with such a worrisome obesity problem, even 30 minutes a day is a great start and there should be no messaging that getting up and doing something is the same as doing nothing. Check out Gretchen Reynolds’ book The First Twenty Minutes that concludes the greatest health benefits come from doing zero minutes to doing just 20 minutes of exercise each week.

Third, as the article states, and as many studies have shown, the easiest way to get in a good amount of exercise in the shortest amount of time is high intensity interval training (HIIT). From what we’ve read – the health benefits from 3-4 HIIT sessions each week (about two hours) equal roughly 600 minutes of slower steady state exercise (like jogging).