No matter how old you are, or what shape you’re currently in, becoming more active is a great health choice to make. Exercise makes you feel better, helps you to sleep better, boosts your energy, reduces stress, and reduces the risk of getting serious diseases.
It is said that if any medication could bring the same benefits that exercise brings without side effects, the drugs company who created it would be very rich indeed.
The more aerobically fit you are, the healthier your heart and lungs will be. You will have less risk of getting heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. You will find that you have the energy to do that activities that you enjoy, and you will be able to do them for longer without getting tired.
The more active you are, the fitter and healthier your body will be. Your muscles, bones and joints will be stronger, and you will be more flexible, which can help with everyday activities and prevent injury. You lose muscle mass as you get older, but with regular strength training, you can offset, or even prevent this. Strength training keeps the bones strong, which is increasingly important as you age, as age-related bone loss can lead to fractures and osteoporosis.
And you can’t ignore the role of exercise in weight management either. Regular exercise can help you to reach a healthy weight and maintain it. Exercise can help you burn more calories even when you are resting, as you will have more lean muscle mass which boosts your metabolic rate. Muscle is a more metabolic tissue than fat, which means that it requires more calories to sustain it.
One of the best things about being active is that you will have a better quality of life. You will have the energy to do all the things you enjoy. This is probably the most important reason why becoming more active will be one of the best decisions you make.
- 1 What counts as being active?
- 1.1 Aerobic fitness
- 1.2 Strength-based fitness
- 1.3 Flexibility
- 1.4 Exercise vs physical activity
- 1.5 Different fitness training methods
- 1.6 Steady state training
- 1.7 Interval Training
- 1.8 The new training method on the block
- 1.9 High intensity interval training (HIIT)
- 1.10 The benefits of HIIT training
- 1.11 It takes no time at all
- 1.12 It has an afterburn effect so you torch calories
- 1.13 You don’t need any equipment
- 1.14 HIIT preserves your precious muscle
- 1.15 It boosts your body’s production of human growth hormone
- 1.16 You can do it anywhere, in whatever time you have
- 1.17 Try this 10 Minute Fat Burning HIIT Workout
- 1.18 How to do it:
- 1.19 The 10 Minute Fat Burning Workout- The exercises
- 1.20 Alternating Standing Oblique Crunches
- 1.21 Forward Lunge with Lateral Raise
- 1.22 Single-Arm Dumbbell Swing
- 1.23 Single-Leg Hip Raise
- 1.24 Final thoughts
What counts as being active?
Being active can mean taking part in structured exercise, such as doing an exercise class or going to the gym, or it can mean doing some gardening or housework. There are some 3 important components of being fit and active:
Aerobic activity, like walking, jogging, cycling and swimming makes your heart and lungs work harder. It builds up stamina so you can keep going for longer. It is advised that you need to do this type of exercise for 30 minutes, at least 5 times per week. The 30 minutes does not have to be continuous, it can be split into a few blocks of 10 minutes for example. The activity should be moderate in intensity to have health benefits, so as a guide, you should be able to hold a conversation but you should feel warm and out of breath.
Stronger muscles not only look better, they help us out in everyday life, like when we carry groceries for example. This type of training can involve exercises that use your own bodyweight or you can lift weights. Strengthening the core muscles, in the abdomen and back falls into this category too. This protects your spine, improves posture, and reduces the risk of injury. It is recommended that strength training should be done for the major muscle groups at least twice per week. Make sure to train the legs, back, chest, shoulders, and arms.
This involves being able to move your joints through their full range of movement. This prevents injury and assists in everyday living, like when you have to reach for something on a high shelf, for example. To maintain flexibility, stretch your major muscle groups, focusing on any areas of tightness, like the hips and the hamstrings, if you do a lot of driving or you have a desk job.
Exercise vs physical activity
Physical activity is any activity that we do throughout the day, such as housework, gardening, or taking the stairs. This is incidental activity that we do in the course of our day to day lives. Exercise is usually planned, structured activity, which is intended to make us fitter. This could be going to the gym, cycling, or running, for example.
The difference between physical activity is usually the intensity you do it at. While it’s true that moderate exercise is considered adequate for good health, there are more health benefits associated with more strenuous activity. For example, running will have a greater effect on cardiovascular fitness and fat burning than walking.
To assess exercise intensity, the best way to do it is to see if you can talk. If you can hold a conversation, your exercise intensity is probably light to moderate. If you are out of breath, and can only say a few words, you’re probably working more vigorously.
Different fitness training methods
So you have started exercising, and you have noticed a big difference, but what do you do next to continue seeing improvements in your fitness? You already do an hour in the gym, and you don’t have time to do more, so surely the answer is not to keep on doing more and more infinitely?
Not necessarily. There are a few different fitness training methods that you can adopt, which develop your fitness in different ways, but which allow you to train smarter without doing more and more exercise. This is the key.
Steady state training
Most people probably use this method already. This involves exercising at a constant pace (roughly 50-80% of your maximum heart rate) using the same muscle movements. This might involve jogging steadily for 20 minutes, or cycling at a steady pace. The more steadily you exercise over a period of time, the more fat you burn as a percentage of total calorie burned. However, it’s a myth that doing this type of slow and steady exercise will help you to burn more fat. This has been the message for many years, but now it is known that you burn more fat when you work at a higher heart rate. This type of training will improve stamina and endurance, but many people find it very dull and repetitive. It does have its place in an exercise programme, however, if for example, you are a runner and you want to build up your distances and the duration of your runs.
Interval training consists of timed bursts of intense activity to improve your cardiovascular fitness. Intervals can range from 10 seconds up to 2 minutes. The intense bursts are followed by rest or active recovery. True interval training can’t really be maintained for more than 15-20 minutes, but it gets your heart, lungs, and muscles used to working at a harder intensity, so that as you get fitter, the harder intensity does not seem as intense any longer.
The new training method on the block
High intensity interval training (HIIT)
HIIT is interval training, but at an even more intense level. A HIIT workout alternates between very short bursts of high intensity activity and periods of recovery, or rest. HIIT workouts can be as short as 8 minutes long.
The benefits of HIIT training
It takes no time at all
It’s a great workout to fit into a busy schedule. Research studies have shown that just a 15 minute HIIT workout, done 3 times per week, can result in huge improvements in your fitness. A 2011 study carried out by the American College of Sports Medicine found that just 2 weeks of HIIT training improved fitness as much as 6-8 weeks of steady state training.
It has an afterburn effect so you torch calories
A HIIT workout raises the metabolism for 24 hours afterwards, which equals more fat and more calories burned. HIIT is also great for stamina. A study found that after 8 weeks of HIIT workouts, cyclists could cycle for twice as long as they could at the beginning of the study.
You don’t need any equipment
You don’t even need any equipment for HIIT. Running, rowing, and cycling all work well, but you can just choose a few exercises like squats or jumping lunges to increase your heart rate, and do those for the allotted time.
HIIT preserves your precious muscle
HIIT workouts cause you to lose more weight from fat while preserving muscle, which is the holy grail for dieters. Steady state cardio appears to cause muscle loss.
It boosts your body’s production of human growth hormone
HIIT workouts boost production of Human Growth Hormone for 24 hours afterwards, which both increases calorie burn and slows down ageing, so here’s to being fitter and looking younger!
You can do it anywhere, in whatever time you have
You can do HIIT anywhere where you have space. Just do maximum efforts followed by periods of recovery for the allotted time.
So the key to improved fitness and weight loss is to work smarter and harder, but not for longer!
Try this 10 Minute Fat Burning HIIT Workout
If you are pushed for time, and who isn’t these days? This HIIT workout will really work you hard in a really short period of time, and there’s no need to spend hours in the gym.
How to do it:
Do each exercise for 20 seconds, working as hard as you can, then have 10 seconds’ rest. Repeat this 5 times for each exercise and this will add up to 10 minutes. You won’t believe that you can work this hard in just 10 minutes!
The 10 Minute Fat Burning Workout- The exercises
All you need is a set of dumbbells to perform the exercises.
Alternating Standing Oblique Crunches
Stand with your arms overhead, bring your left elbow and right knee together, then return to starting position. Repeat on your other side, switching to right elbow and left knee. Make sure you keep your back straight and your abdominals engaged throughout the movement. To increase intensity, hold a light dumbbell in each hand when you perform the exercise.
Forward Lunge with Lateral Raise
Stand in a lunge position, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Bend one knee until your front thigh is parallel to the floor. As you stand up, push through the heel of your front foot to engage your glutes. As you bend, raise your arms to shoulder height. As you stand up, push through the heel of your front foot to engage your glutes. To increase the intensity, hold the lunge longer or use heavier weights.
Single-Arm Dumbbell Swing
Stand in a squat position with your feet wider than hip-width apart, with your toes facing forward. Hold one dumbbell between your knees and get in a squat position, swing arms up and straight ahead as you push out of the squat. Hold the squat for longer to get increase intensity.
Single-Leg Hip Raise
Lie on your back flat on the floor. Bend one leg at the knee and hold the other leg straight up in the air. Raise your hips off the ground and hold for 5 seconds. Then return to the floor. Switch legs, repeating the same number of reps on each side. To make this one more difficult, put a resistance band around your thighs or use ankle weights.
Taking more exercise is one of the best decisions you will ever make. These days, with labour saving devices, driving more, sedentary jobs, sedentary leisure time, and a never-ending supply of convenience foods, it’s difficult to stay as fit and healthy as we would like.
But with a few clever adjustments to our lifestyle, we can take enough exercise, and eat well enough to benefits our health, prevent illnesses, look good, and feel better.
Becoming more active is key. This doesn’t mean that you need to be hitting the gym every day; being more active generally is underrated. Taking the stairs when you can, walking to the local shops instead of taking the car; every bit counts. You may go to the gym 3 times per week for an hour, but there’s 168 hours in a week, and you won’t get the health benefits if you spend the rest of your time being sedentary.
Research has shown that while only moderate exercise is needed to benefit health, more intense exercise brings more health and fitness benefits. For example, running brings more health benefits than walking, as it burns more energy, and puts more stress on the heart, lungs, and muscles so they get stronger.
To gain maximum benefits, any exercise regime that you adopt should include 3 components. It should include exercise to improve your aerobic fitness, your strength, and your flexibility.
Aerobic exercise such as running and cycling can increase your stamina, so you will be able to do the things you enjoy for longer.
Strength exercise keeps your metabolism burning calories, even when you are at rest. It helps you do everyday things like carry heavy bags, and it prevents muscle loss as you get older.
Flexibility training also helps you day to day, and makes it much less likely that you will get an injury due to overtight muscles and lack of range of motion in the joints.
The main differences between exercise and physical activity is in the intensity at which you do an activity, and in how structured the activity is. Physical activity tends to be light to moderate in intensity, and exercise tends to be more intense, and geared towards a more specific goal, like increasing fitness.
Physical activity is anything that we do day to day in the course of our daily lives, while exercise tends to be planned and more structured.
Many people give exercise programmes up because they see initial results, then they don’t know how to capitalise on them. They get bored and disillusioned.
There are a few different ways of training to boost fitness. Some are better for burning fat and improving fitness than others, but all of them have their place in a balanced exercise plan.
Steady state exercise involves exercising at a low to moderate intensity for a prolonged period of time, like jogging or cycling on an exercise bike. This type of training builds stamina but does not lead to greater fat burning over time, as more intensity is required to burn fat.
Interval training is short bursts of intense activity, followed by a gentler recovery. The harder bursts get the heart, lungs and muscles used to working harder, which improves your fitness and endurance. More fat is also burned over time.
But the new training method that is being raved about is high intensity interval training, or HIIT, which is a very intense way of training, which can bring health and fitness benefits in as little as 4 minutes! Yes, you read that right. Try the workout in this article, and you won’t believe how tough you can work out in just 10 minutes. Hello fitness, my old friend!