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Does Cardio Cut It?

When it comes to exercise, "cardio" has always had quite a name for itself, and we have all seen people in the gym pounding away on the machines for what seems like hours on end!

But is the really the best type of exercise, in particular for excellent cardiovascular health? And in terms of fat loss, is intensive cardio the best solution?

Whilst we are not fitness professionals, and we urge you to do your own research and get involved with a good trainer if this is an area of interest for you, research points to an exciting and easier way to improve heart function and overall fitness. 


Interval training

As it suggests, this involves short bursts of energy followed by down time, these can be surprisingly short, so for example sprint for 30 seconds, walk gently for 30, or one minute of each is also often used. The key is maintaining some movement in the slow times, but to really move in the fast times!  Equally, this sort of exercise can work on a treadmill, or running machine, or even a trampoline for example.   You could even incorporate the principle into your daily walk if fitness allows.

"Interval training can get you more cardiovascular benefits in less time. That may be important for those of us who may not have time for longer fitness routines" Danya L. Dinwoodey, MD

It is also referred for High intensity interval training or HIIT but typically, this refers to a really extreme physical output - pushing the body as hard as it can possibly go almost to the point of total exhaustion.  This even more intense form is only be suitable for those in good fitness.

Studies time and time again are showing that interval training burns more fat, and this is through the improvement of mitochondria function, which in turn improves oxidative capacity.  Some studies have shown as much as x9 fat loss when interval is compared to aerobic, and with far less time spent doing it!

In contrast, when people do long stretches of cardio, eventually in their fitness programme they often plateau, and despite huge effort, and hours of work, weight remains the same!  If you are training for long distance running, then of course long sessions are vital, but for most people looking to improve fitness and cardiovascular health, then hours of running a week is really not necessary.

But some do recommend a short piece of steady cardio after an intense interval session, perhaps just 15 minutes seems to be ideal.

Because interval training is very intensive, it may not be suitable for some, and if you are in poor health it is of course something you should discuss with your GP, then work with someone hands on in a gym.   If you are in poor physical condition and suddenly start pushing your body, this is a recipe for disaster! With your doctors approval, get moving, get some basic fitness established then look to add some interval training when you are ready.

So that's it, our brief look at interval training, there are lots of resources on the internet, and your local gym are best placed to help you with this.

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