The 2011 ACSM guidelines for physical activity to prevent weight gain and improve cardiovascular health is 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity 5x/week or 20 minutes vigorous intensity activity for 3x/week. (1) For weight loss, the amount of time needed is even longer. For weight loss or to prevent weight regain the recommendation is anywhere from 150-250 minutes/week. If you are like most people, finding 30 minutes, let alone 50 minutes most days of the week can be very difficult. There is simply no time. Adding quicker paced interval segments to your routine has been shown to burn the same amount of calories if not more in less time. Studies have shown that after completing a workout consisting of interval training you are still burning calories up to 24 hours later.
Interval workouts involve different speed intervals which helps speed up your metabolism. Some trainers recommend a 1:1 ratio for your cardiovascular activity of your choice like walking, running, jogging, biking , so for example after warming up, do 3 minutes of increased speed and then 3 minutes of slower speed to recover, or some may do 4 minutes increased speed and then 4 minutes slower speed to recover, etc. Usually the amount of time is found in 3 minute, 4 minute or 5 minute ratios. There is also another method called “Spring Interval Training” that incorporates quick sprints into your work out. You can do interval training with any type of cardiovascular activity; it would be a great addition to your nightly walks. After warming up for a couple of minutes, look for something in the distance that you can walk quickly to (about 30 seconds) once you get to that telephone pole or lamp post, slow it back down to your normal walking speed for about 4-5 minutes. This would be repeated throughout the workout, ideally 3-5 times. If you are a gym goer, interval training can be done on any cardio machine also.
Incorporating intervals into your workouts is a great way to spice up your daily routine. It has been shown to improve endurance, improve blood pressure, improve insulin sensitivity, reduce cholesterol and help with weight loss. To determine how any workout affects your glucose levels, check your glucose level right before the activity and right after. This will show you how beneficial exercise can be in improving your glucose levels. Remember adding intervals to your workouts is for individuals that already have an established workout routine, and should not be initiated as your first ever work out. If you have physical limitations, or health conditions please speak to your doctor before starting any workout routine.