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Exercise and Fitness

High intensity exercising for aerobic fitness

06/05/2006

Question:

I read an article recently that researchers at McMasters University conducted a study showing that doing sort, extremely high intensity sprints on a bike greatly improved overall aerobic performance. I am a 43 year old woman who has been religiously doing the Precor elliptical every morning for several years for 40 minutes per day at a relatively low intensity (heart rate 155, which for me is a rate at which I can maintain a conversation). When I go biking up hills or hiking up steep slopes, I feel exhausted. In some ways, I feel like I`ve been on a plateau. Is this type of interval training something the normal person can get a benefit from? Any health risks to worry about? http://www.fastexercise.com/?LP=20

Answer:

Yes it sounds as if you could benefit from performing some Interval training. Interval Training alternates between high-intensity and low-intensity activity, which can make for good cross training.  For instance, performing a 4 to 1 ratio. Four minutes working moderately, then one minute working harder (not to exceed your max heart rate).  Usually you should perform a minimum of 6 cycles over the next 2 months in order to see cardiovascular improvements.  This is not a workout you want to perform every workout. Try adding interval training once a week to your routine and see how it goes. You could then up your interval days to two, if you find you enjoy it.

Another way to vary intensity is to walk up hills (or increase the ramp height on exercise machines such as treadmills and elliptical fitness cross-trainers).  Walking uphill requires more energy and muscle power than walking on a flat surface.  On a bike, increasing the resistance of the pedals will add intensity to the workout.

Duration of a session can also be varied.  For example, alternate between shorter walks (half a mile) and longer walks (one or two miles).  Varying intensity and duration provides a good basis for an endurance physical activity program.

Enjoy your exercise program.

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Response by:

David   Carroll David Carroll
Fitness Instructor
Fitness Center at CARE\Crawley
University of Cincinnati