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Be Well

Intensity vs. Duration

Exercise plays a crucial role in our overall health and wellness. Because it is a key factor in obtaining and maintaining good health, you may think that you should exercise as often as you can for as long as possible. However, scientific studies have shown that “less is more”.


In a study done at Florida State University in 2007, researchers discovered that subjects who performed a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) cardio workout burned nearly 10 percent more calories during the 24 hours after the workout than the subjects who performed a steady-state cardio workout. The reason for this is simple. Due to the increase in metabolism, HIIT is harder on the body, so the body needs to burn more calories to repair itself.


Other research has shown that short bursts of intense training can increase calorie burn for up to 38 hours post-workout. EPOC, which stands for excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or the amount of oxygen required to restore the body to its resting state, is increased after short, intense training. The body burns more calories recovering from HIIT as opposed to longer, less-intense exercise.


There are also studies showing that short, intense bouts of exercise burn more fat, including one done nearly 20 years ago by Dr. Izumi Tabata at a university in Japan. This and other studies show that with just 4 minutes of higher intensity training, epinephrine (adrenaline) levels in the body increase, which forces the body to use a higher amount of fat for energy. They showed that even though you may burn the same total amount of calories during a steady-state workout, fat burning, and therefore fat loss, will increase with a high-intensity workout.


Intensity is key to changing your body. Longer workouts are not necessarily more challenging workouts and most people do not have time to spend two or more hours in the gym every day to see results. It’s important to remember that while everyone should be focusing on intensity, this can vary from person to person. A fitness professional can help you customize a workout that will push your body to a new level while still ensuring you are training safely.

Be Well Tips
*Intensity is key.
*Short bursts of exercise are very effective.
*Longer workouts are not necessarily better workouts.
*HIIT burns more fat.
*Get a customized workout from a fitness professional.
*Consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.

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