March 28, 2013
To build on the four fitness tips given last week, here are three additional options to help set yourself up for fitness success throughout the entire season.
1. Shorten Your Workout
Do you ever feel discouraged thinking about your upcoming hour-long workout? Perhaps your overloaded schedule and various work and family commitments make a long-duration exercise session impractical. You’re not alone, as time spent in the monotony of lengthy workout sessions is a well-documented turn-off for many people who want to get in better shape. The solution? Make your workouts shorter, but include short bursts of intense effort. This type of exercise is called high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and can be used with just about any type of exercise mode. Researchers have found that exercisers can burn as many as 200 extra calories in as little as 2.5 minutes of concentrated effort a day—as long as they intersperse longer periods of easy recovery in between. In one study, cyclists pedaled at an easy workload (e.g., 3 to 5 minutes at a light resistance) and then introduced high resistance and faster revolutions for an intense, 30-second bout. This pattern was repeated until the exercisers accumulated 2.5 minutes of high-intensity work (i.e., 5 bouts of 30-second intervals) for a total workout time under 25 minutes. Performing HIIT workouts like the one just described a couple of times per week adds up to increased fitness and calorie burning, which could help keep away that extra pound or two that many Americans gain each year. All this and extra time in your day as well!
2. Join the Circus
Seriously, hear me out. An emerging trend is starting to pick up momentum—taking fitness classes at performing arts schools. Institutions such as circus arts academies and ballet schools offer conditioning classes to the general public. These arts are not just for performance-oriented students. People of all shapes, sizes and fitness abilities can participate in performance art classes and enjoy great physical benefits at the same time. For example, ballet schools often offer introductory classes for adults that focus on the same conditioning exercises used to get top-notch ballerinas ready to perform (scaled down to match each participant’s ability, of course). You can also find circus arts academies that provide community instruction in trapeze skills, aerial silks performance and clown techniques for people of all ages—many even offer aerial yoga classes! These skills require consistent conditioning and practice to master, but they are so much fun you just might consider quitting your day job to run away with the circus!
3. Get Support with 140 Characters or Less
Social media has made it easier than ever to find people who share your same interests. Now there is research that suggests joining a group on a social media outlet such as Twitter can help you with your weight-loss goals. Investigators found that people who regularly utilized Twitter as part of a mobile weight-loss program lost more weight. The participants in the study (96 overweight and obese men and women) used Twitter primarily to provide information, emotional support and compliments to one another through status updates. The authors concluded that, although traditional behavioral weight-loss interventions typically provide social support through face-to-face group meetings, providing group support through online social networks might be a low-cost way to reach a large number of people who are interested in achieving a healthy weight. Even if weight-loss is not one of your goals, you can find supportive, like-minded people and groups on social media that can support you through running your first marathon, developing a daily yoga practice or mastering that elusive muscle-up in Crossfit. Use technology and the power of connection through others to support your efforts to push your limits and change up your fitness routine.
Sabrena Merrill, M.S., is an exercise physiologist and ACE Education Content Development Expert. A 20-year veteran of the fitness industry, she is a Level 1 CrossFit Trainer as well as an ACE-certified Personal Trainer, Health Coach and Group Fitness Instructor. Sabrena holds a bachelor’s degree in physical education (sport science) as well as a master’s degree in physical education/biomechanics from the University of Kansas. A former full-time faculty member in the Kinesiology and Physical Education Department at California State University, Long Beach, Sabrena has a passion for educating others about current fitness topics as evidenced through her work developing curriculum for continuing education programs, writing for fitness-related publications, creating educational videos and speaking to fitness professionals at conferences and workshops nationwide.