If you are looking to shake up your fitness regimen or start a new one, interval training can make a big difference. It is a great way to burn more calories in less time while improving your cardio fitness.
Simply put, interval training is alternating bursts of intense activity with segments of lighter activity. For example, if you walk on a regular basis you could incorporate some jogging or running into your routine. If you’re outside, you could pick a landmark, like a tree, and say, “I’m going to run to that spot.” If inside, increase the speed on the treadmill for 30 seconds or a minute.
Interval training is a great exercise tool for several reasons, including:
- Burning more calories. The more intense your exercise – even for a few minutes – the more calories you burn.
- Improving your cardiac fitness. This type of exercise is great for your endurance and in time you’ll be able to lengthen your intense periods, making you even stronger.
- Busting boredom. Walking on a treadmill or even outside can get dull after a while, but when you mix in a quick jog or two, it makes it more interesting.
Another great thing about interval training is that the principles are the same for everyone whether they are an experienced exerciser or someone just starting out. If you’re looking to incorporate interval training into your workouts, first warm-up a couple of minutes and then alternate the faster bursts with your regular speed. At first, you may want to keep the faster bursts shorter – about 15 to 20 seconds – and then increase from there.
Interval training isn’t just for walkers and runners. You can use the same method if you’re riding a bike or using an elliptical trainer or other exercise machine. The key is to alternate the faster bursts with your normal speed. The pay-off is a stronger heart and stronger muscles.
Kim Kandler is a licensed athletic trainer with ThedaCare Orthopedic Care at ThedaCare Medical Center-New London.