Cycling, jogging, Zumba, Dancing, Yoga, Climbing stairs or hills. The list is inexhaustible. These days, there are many exercise options, it’s as abundant as the different Varieties of Jollof there is – which is the reason some of us exercise in the first instance.
Unfortunately, with so many varieties of exercises available to choose from, how do you distinguish which is best for your fitness goals, how do you discern which is not?
With a hectic schedule, shuffling work and family life, and the never-ending fitness shows on cable and fitness channels, it can be quite a challenge making out time for exercises in our lives. It then becomes of utmost importance to maximize time spent in the gym.
Benefits of a high-intensity workout
The single biggest factor in determining what qualifies an exercise as high intensity is how your heart rate is elevated when performing the activity.
Many people assume that the higher their heart rate while performing an activity, the harder they are working, it’s important that no matter your choice of exercise do not let your heart rate get too elevated.
An effective way to ascertain your maximum heart rate is to subtract your age from 220. So a 50-year-old woman would want a maximum heart rate of 170bpm (beats per minute).
Sprinting, skipping rope, infinite pushup, infinite squats, infinite burpees etc are exercises considered as more high intensity, as they can boost your heart rate 75% higher than your maximum rate. A high-intensity workout is believed to raise your metabolism and burn more fat up to 10 times more.
High-intensity workout effects can last beyond the period of your workout.
Your body’s metabolism continues to burn calories hours after your workout through a process known as Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC).
The amount of oxygen required by your body to get back to its normal metabolic functions is called EPOC. This catabolizing effect can last for the duration of 15 to 23 hours after completing a high-intensity workout.
High-intensity workouts are mainly preferred by individuals who are short on time or have limited access to a gym or equipment. Some exercises can be carried out using your body weight and through high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
HIIT workout is designed to be performed at full exertion, getting you in and out of the gym as fast as possible. Training is performed at full exertion, followed by a short recovery period.
For example walk and sprint, a thirty-second sprint followed by a 30-second brisk walking. Repeat this about 7-10 times, on getting to sprint 3 or 4, you will feel exhausted, push through this exhaustion and you will reap the benefit.
Your endurance, energy levels and VO2 max (your body’s ability to use oxygen as energy) will be increased over time by this type of training.
This exercise should be carried out by older people with caution because the older you get the lower your maximum heart rate.
Furthermore, HIIT requires high-intensity levels and your body will need about 48 hour’s recovery period. If you are just starting out, restrict yourself to about 2 or 3 HIIT sessions in a week to prevent injury or exhaustion.
Benefits of a low-intensity workout
At this point, it is easy to assume that considering all the benefits of high-intensity exercise, there is no need for performing anything else. Well, walking on a treadmill might not be exhilarating or electrifying, it has numerous health benefits.
Low-intensity steady state (LISS) requires training for a longer period of time, at least 25 minutes, sometimes up to an hour. Studies have shown that working out at this pace leads to increase in blood flow and oxygen circulation within the cells.
It is also accepted as a safer form of exercise for older people as it does not strain the cardiovascular system. A low-intensity workout can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by ensuring body plasma lipids are regulated, thus decreasing cholesterol levels.
A low-intensity workout can take any form from cycling to squats, jogging etc to even more high-intensity exercises such as skipping rope, in as much as its intensity can be reduced and performed at a slower pace.
A good indicator for determining exercise intensity is to try and have a conversation while performing it.
For example, if you are jogging briskly with a companion and can converse at a normal easy level, then the training is of low intensity.
If while at it (the exercise) you occasionally have an elevated heart rate or you go out of breath, it would be of moderate intensity.
For high intensity, you won’t be able to say more than few words without being completely exhausted.
Low-intensity exercises are preferred because it’s easy on the muscles and requires less recovery time. Furthermore, not everyone loves to work out to the point of being soaked in sweat.
Just like high-intensity interval training, there are many types of equipment that can be used to perform lower intensity exercises, although it takes a bit longer to burn the same level of calories as someone performing a higher intensity workout.
As a LISS exerciser, you will need to stick to your routine for much longer than those engaging in HIIT, which could lead to more successful results overall.
For best results, combine both
In conclusion, the type of exercise is dependent on you as an individual and your overall fitness goals. For best results combine both higher and lower intensity workouts each week allowing for sufficient recovery time in between.
Lastly, the exercise with the most staying power is the best for you, either jogging, squats, walking, if you found that one activity-enjoy it.