Any activity you perform above a resting threshold that sustains and improves health and fitness is exercise.
The good news: that aerobic class you started two years ago was exercise. The bad news: that aerobic class you started two years ago isn’t exercise now.
Are you being challenged? Is your fitness improving and risk of injury declining? Or are you putting in your hour, doing the same moves, sweating less, and seeing no changes in strength or body fat?
Up your intensity!
High intensity exercise is defined as work that gets your heart rate above 80% of its maximum. You don’t need a fancy heart monitor. You’ll know you’re working at this level if you absolutely can’t talk while exercising and you are breathing hard. It’s uncomfortable and hard to sustain for more than 20-30 seconds. That’s what makes interval training so effective. Interval training comes in many forms, and I’ll post more about that in the coming weeks.
For now, I’ll leave you with this challenge:
Whatever your exercise is (whether you run, dance, lift, swim, etc), do it faster this week — but not so fast you sacrifice proper form. Just for 20 seconds at a time. You’ll see the difference in your daily energy and body fat. Even your hunger will diminish! Yes, moderate intensity exercise tends to increase appetite. High intensity exercise tends to reduce it. Think about THAT.
But WAIT! Not all people should exercise at this intensity. If you have hypertension, heart conditions, are pregnant, or have not been exercising regularly, check with your doctor before pushing your heart that hard. Also, if you aren’t sure if you have good, safe technique, check with a trainer. The rest of you, spend this week building that most important muscle in your body!