Thursday, March 27, 2014

Exercising for 20 Seconds?

You may have watched a recent ABC News Nightline segment about Mr. Michael Mosley, a doctor turned bestselling author and writer of The 20-Second Workout.  He believes that, "just 20 seconds of grunting, groaning and pushing your way through the pain, even in business attire will make you not only skinnier, but healthier." In essence, he believes that 20-seconds of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is the perfect daily workout.

I understand that the world is become faster pace each day with increasing demands on a person's time and, with the invention of mobile devices, there is no such thing as "down time" anymore.  People need to squeeze more into their fitness routines - in a faster time - that ever before.  But, can 20-second workouts really help you become healthier and more toned? 

This view is undoubtedly controversial. Mosley's fitness ideology takes ideas from a growing body of science which suggests it's the stress and intensity of exercise, not the duration, that's beneficial. So, weight loss and four of the "Top Ten Killers" may be positively affected - heart disease (#1), cancer (#2), stroke (#4) and diabetes (#7).

Personally, I adhere to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, National Institute of Health (NIH) and the NIH National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's recommendations for physical activity:

Guidelines for Adults:
  • Some physical activity is better than none. Inactive adults should gradually increase their level of activity. People gain health benefits from as little as 60 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week.
  • For major health benefits, do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week. Another option is to do a combination of both. A general rule is that 2 minutes of moderate-intensity activity counts the same as 1 minute of vigorous-intensity activity.
  • For even more health benefits, do 300 minutes (5 hours) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of vigorous-intensity activity each week (or a combination of both). The more active you are, the more you will benefit.
  • When doing aerobic activity, do it for at least 10 minutes at a time. Spread the activity throughout the week. Muscle-strengthening activities that are moderate or vigorous intensity should be included 2 or more days a week. These activities should work all of the major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders, and arms). Examples include lifting weights, working with resistance bands, and doing sit-ups and pushups, yoga, and heavy gardening.

I also believe that adding HIIT to your workout can help you pack more benefit into a smaller amount of gym time.  Research has shown that you can achieve more progress in a mere 15 minutes of interval training than running for 60 minutes on a treadmill. And, according to a 2011 study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting, just two weeks of HIIT improves your aerobic capacity as much as 6-8 weeks of endurance training.

So, HIIT works.  But, does it have the same benefits in just 20 seconds a day?  I'll leave that for you to decide.

To read more of my thoughts regarding HIIT, check out my blog, "And the Number 1 Fitness Trend for 2014 is..."

To learn about how Fitness for Health can create an individualized fitness plan that addresses your unique needs - whether weight loss, toning, low intensity or HIIT - visit www.FitnessForHealth.org.

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