Exercise for Both Endurance and Intensity
For maximum health benefits, you should work for both endurance and intensity in your exercise program. We have lots of evidence that exercise prolongs lives by reducing risks for chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, heart attacks and diabetes (PLoS Medicine, January 12, 2021), and adding intensity to a workout increases its health benefits (Brit Med J, Oct 7, 2020;371).
A recent study from the University of Guelph in Ontario, suggests that you will gain more health benefits by trying to exercise intensely on some days and doing slower recovery exercise on the other days (Med Sci Sports Exerc, June 2021;53(6):1194-1205).
In this study, 23 overweight participants were divided into two groups that exercised on stationary bicycles for six weeks:
Endurance Group: Five days a week, 30–40 minutes of continuous exercise at about 60 percent of maximal effort
Intense Intervals Group: Three days a week, 4-6 intervals with each lasting for 30 seconds at almost all-out intensity, with a two-minute recovery between each interval.
The researchers found that both the endurance group and the intense intervals group had increased heart-lung fitness and ability to control blood sugar levels after eating a meal, but only the endurance group had lower blood pressure, decreased body fat, and ability to control blood fat levels after eating a high-fat meal. This shows us that short bouts of intense exercise alone are not enough; your exercise program should include both some endurance work (time and distance in your activity) and some short bursts of intensity (increased effort).
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Your Health Coach,