Fitness trends seem to come and go like the tides—you’ve barely heard about one before another comes rolling in to shake things up. However, one thing that doesn’t change is the importance of working out. And this new fitness trend makes finding the time to work out easier than ever!
If you’re not working out on a regular basis, you might be putting more than just your waist size at risk. According to the American Cancer Society, working out for 45 minutes, five times a week could lower your odds of developing breast cancer later in life. Similarly, engaging in moderate exercise for 30 minutes a day keeps the heart healthy and lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease.
While it’s clear that exercising is essential to living a healthy life, deciding which new fitness trend to jump on is considerably more complex. Moreover, even the most devoted fitness fiends struggle to determine the type and amount of exercise needed to lose weight and get in shape. For example, should those looking to shed pounds opt for cardio or weight lifting? Interval training or yoga? A recent New York Times article aims to answer those questions and more.
Think you need to exercise for hours a day to shed weight? According to a study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, engaging in just 13 minutes of weight training can build strength, provided that you push yourself. The team of researchers from Lehman College in the Bronx assessed the effects of weight training on muscle strength and size. According to the study, participating in one short but intense set of exercises yielded the same muscular benefits as working out for a longer period with less intensity. The goal of each exercise session is to work the muscles to the point of exhaustion (though not pain). Typically, study subjects completed 8 to 12 repetitions of an exercise per set.
In the Lehman College study, researchers assessed the male participants based on muscle size, strength, and endurance before arbitrarily assigning them to one of three groups. While all study members completed the same activities, the intensity of the exercises varied, as did the time spent working out. The first group completed five sets of each exercise, the second group completed three sets, and the third did just one set, finishing in about 13 minutes. Exercisers hit the gym three times a week for a period of eight weeks before researchers assessed their muscle quality for a second time.
While researchers expected the number of sets performed to affect muscle quality, the findings showed that strength improvements were about the same for all three groups. As long as the muscles were strained to the point of exhaustion, study participants saw positive results. The key was to engage in an exercise until physically incapable of doing more.
The New York Times article cautioned that the study involved young men and noted that further research would be needed to determine the effects of brief, intense weight training on women and older individuals. Still, researchers are cautiously optimistic about the study results. If short but extreme bursts of exercise can yield significant results, then busy professionals may have fewer excuses for skipping their daily workouts. The end result could be a healthier populace overall.
Running and walking are great ways to boost health and get the heart pumping. However, if you’re only engaging in cardio, you might be missing out on some of the many benefits associated with weight training. Here are some perks to pumping iron.
Did you know that lifting weights can benefit your brain? A study out of Italy showed that people who engaged in strength training for 12 weeks showed an increase in practical skills compared to the control group. Cardio was shown to help improve analytical thinking, so don’t skip out on those bike rides or strolls in the park. This news could be of particular value to older adults who may be at risk for dementia.
It’s no secret that working out can increase longevity. After all, weekly workouts keep the pounds off, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other conditions. However, you might not know that weight training has a particular benefit when it comes to lifespan. A 2014 study out of UCLA showed that individuals with more muscle mass have a lower risk of dying prematurely. So, pump some iron to live longer.
Light sleeper? Exercise could be the solution to those insomnia woes. A 2012 study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology revealed that older men who engaged in resistance training woke up less frequently at night compared to the control group. So push yourself at the gym to catch your best zzzs.
Of course, most of us work out because we want to lose a few pounds—or maybe more than a few. And while you might think that logging miles on the treadmill or elliptical is the best way to shed weight, research reveals that weight training can yield superior results. According to research from the Harvard School of Public Health, men who engaged in 20 minutes of weight training gained less belly fat over the years than those who spent an equal amount of time doing cardio.
It’s important to remember that exercise isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. It might take time to find the workout regimen that works best for you, but when you do the results will be well worth it.