June 8, 2011

Low intensity is not a waste of time:

I have written about the benefits of interval training and the need to work hard to get results; however that does not mean there is no benefit in low intensity exercise.  First of all, no one can (or should) train at high intensity all the time.  Rest and recovery are crucial components of a fitness program.  It is very appropriate (and recommended) to alternate days of high intensity training with a low intensity workout. 
But if you choose to only work out at an easy level, you are not wasting your time.  Real benefits can be accrued from even low intensity exercise.  Moderate walking for just an hour a week has been shown to reduce risk of heart disease.  Low intensity exercise has been shown to lessen symptoms of fatigue by 65% in sedentary people (so there goes the excuse of being too tired to exercise!).   Other studies have shown that light exercise can decrease symptoms of stress, lower blood sugar and reduce blood pressure.  Easy walking on a treadmill has also been shown to reduce the symptoms of Parkinson’s.  This does not mean you should give up your high intensity workouts; you just need to be aware of your goals.  If you want to lose weight, compete in a triathlon or increase your fitness level you will need to sweat.  But for those looking to improve health or just feel better, even a little exercise is better than none.

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