The latest research reveals that everything we thought we knew about cardio is 100 percent wrong. Studies from conservative sources like Harvard indicate that the key to effective exercise for weight loss and overall health is not duration but intensity.
Long, slow, constant cardio just doesn’t build what your heart and lungs need. It doesn’t increase your hearts ability to respond to real demands. In fact, for all your effort, you only reduce your ability to handle life’s stressful circumstances.
The CDC’s Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends at least 150 minutes of exercise per week and 300 minutes per week if you want to lose weight. The average person just doesn’t have an extra 5 hours a week to spend exercising which is why most people aren’t exercising on a regular basis. Even if you had the time, who really wants to spend five hours a week on a treadmill or exercise bike? Not only is this inefficient for weight loss but can actually alter hormone levels which undermines our weight loss efforts and creates ill health.
What did our caveman ancestors know about exercise that we don’t know? They obviously did not spend hours in the gym doing painfully long aerobic sessions, nor did they jog endlessly, but they had incredible strength, speed and stamina. If they were threatened by the prospect of becoming food for a fast and hungry animal or if they needed to catch their daily protein meal, they ran. They ran very fast for short periods of time. Just long enough to escape danger or catch their dinner. They also needed to forage and gather food. This meant bending, climbing, heaving and carrying but never further than absolutely necessary. They did what their genes had evolved to have them do, exert tremendous amounts of energy in a short period of time. Our genes have not changed much in 10,000 years but our lifestyles have.
Our caveman ancestors did not run for hours on end, starve themselves with ridiculous diets or lift boulders over their heads to build bigger muscles. They were lean and strong following the natural cycles of work and rest, periods of exertion and recovery. Intensity was then and is now, the answer to reserve capacity, heart and lung health, a lean body and balanced hormones. Hormones such as glucagon, cortisol, human growth hormone, insulin and leptin can be kept balanced and in check with short duration, high intensity exertion. This form of exercise, sometimes referred to as burst training, will help protect your heart, burn fat, build muscle, boost metabolism, balance hormones, reduce insulin resistance and increase energy.
Remember the scene in the movie Rocky where he climbs the stairs? That is burst training! 20-60 seconds of high intensity bursts that causes a higher oxygen demand than your body can supply at that time. This causes your body to repay that debt later, as well as replenishing glycogen stores in your muscles from body fat, which prolongs fat burning long after exercise has ended.
This form of exercise works....no gym memberships, equipment, money, expertise or a lot of time needed. Just 10-20 minutes a day, three times a week will do it. However, you must also stay active on a regular basis, eat a nutritious diet and reduce stress for optimal health. If you are extremely overweight, in poor health or physically immobile, start with a nutritious meal plan and consult your doctor before attempting any new exercise program.