MERLENG

WHY SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE TO FAT LOSS

New research found 60 minutes of steady-state cardio adds hours to your lifespan

Ever wondered why your office’s archetypal cardio commuter is so smug? It could be because he’s going to live longer than you. That’s because a study from the Iowa State University has found that running could be the most effective exercise to increase life expectancy to the point that, on average, runners enjoy a not-so-insignificant three years over non-runners.

Finally, there’s method to your lycra-clad colleague’s madness. Perhaps it’s time that you joined him.

You’ll increase the blood flow to your muscles when you lift, which equals a bigger post-workout pump.

The sweat-soaked craze for high-intensity interval training (HIIT) has warped our view of exercise to the point where a gentle jog now seems painfully retro – and not in a cool way. Steady-state training (LISS) is, to the layman, the act of exercising well below your maximum effort for an extended period; conversely, HIIT involves repeated bursts at 85-90% of your maximum heart rate for a shorter period.

The latter has recently been seen as a fitness panacea, but readers would do well to slow down for a moment. That’s because low-intensity endurance exercise is the keystone to human health, building fitness and delivering extra benefits from busting stress to speeding up your post-gym recovery times. OK, so HIIT is a hit for a reason.

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Research in the Journal of Obesity confirmed its impressive ability to torch fat and deliver a potent metabolism boost. It’s also easy to squeeze into a busy day. But during slower, steadier exercise your heart and lungs get through more work, giving bigger boosts to cardiovascular fitness and stamina. It will also aid your recovery from lifting sessions, so you’ll feel (relatively) fresh the next day while cardio-averse bros are hobbling back to the rack.

Because it promotes capillarisation (the formation of new blood vessels), you’ll increase the blood flow to your muscles when you lift, which equals a bigger post-workout pump.

Longer sessions are also excellent for honing technique. Whether you’re prepping for a triathlon or a 5K, a higher training volume will help you to maintain posture, as well as develop a better foot strike or pedal rhythm, letting you go for longer at a lower energy cost. Better technique means fewer injuries, too.  But what about HIIT’s magical fat-loss powers? Ultimately, losing weight comes down to the simple equation of calories consumed versus calories burned. A 20-minute CrossFit ‘Cindy’ (look it up) workout burns 261 calories. An hour- long jog, 408.

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Yes, intervals offer the unquantifiable EPOC effect – the afterburn through an elevated metabolism – but steady-state actually melts more calories during exercise. Reintroducing low-intensity activities delivers a host of bonus benefits, too. The focus in fitness has recently shifted away from a purely results-based economy to one with a more holistic view of total health.

LISS boosts your memory, improves insulin sensitivity to ward off diabetes, and even quells hunger hormones. Perhaps most importantly, at a time when anxiety levels are spiking (there were 8.2 million reported cases in the UK in 2013), the humble jog is being harnessed to rein in stressed minds. It’s a smart move considering the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry found a positive correlation between aerobic exercise and a reduction in anxiety.

Humans are designed to be persistent hunters equipped with stamina for better fitness and good health. If you can’t run for more than 30 minutes, just how fit are you? It’s time you got back to the slow lane.

Source: menshealth.co.uk