You don’t need to work out for hours at a time to dramatically improve your health. In fact, short bouts of exercise can be more effective at improving your aerobic fitness than longer workouts, as long as they’re done right. Having good aerobic fitness is extremely important for firefighters to avoid having a heart attack on duty.
In part 1 of this article , I explained that by getting 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week you will dramatically reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer and diabetes. And you can even work toward that goal with 10 minute bouts at a time.
High Intensity Training Is Key
And there’s even better news: if you’re willing to do high intensity exercise, you only need to do 75 minutes per week!
How Do You Know If It’s High Intensity Exercise?
If you are breathing hard enough that you couldn’t really hold a conversation, then you are likely working at a high or vigorous intensity. Technically, it’s about 85% of maximal heart rate. Moderate intensity feels like your heart rate and breathing are elevated, but you can still talk pretty easily at about 75% of your max heart rate.
So why did I say earlier that short bouts of exercise can be more effective at improving your aerobic fitness than longer workouts? Because the higher the intensity of your exercise, the greater the rate of improvement in your aerobic fitness. So doing 10 minutes of exercise where you’re almost maxed out can be just as good, or even better, than an hour of slightly taxing yourself.
What Is Interval Training?
Doing short bouts of high intensity exercise has recently been labeled “interval training”. Not to be confused with a fitness fad, it’s an effective way to improve your fitness and your health if you’re short on time and/or motivation.
You can even do 1 or 2 minute high intensity intervals followed by a “rest interval” for 1 minute. Just 10 minutes of that will keep your heart rate high, improve your fitness over time, and ultimately help you enjoy a long, healthy retirement.