The latest opinion on cardiovascular fitness has moved from the old standard of 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week, to a more collective goal that doesn’t necessarily mean 30 consecutive minutes of aerobic exercise periods. That’s fantastic news for those who are busy and have a hard time fitting a workout into a set schedule. But, when it comes to losing weight, you have to think a little differently than just cardiovascular fitness and heart health; you have to think of how exercise will fit into your weight loss plan. So, do you have to exercise that 30 minutes or more to get the kind of calorie burning and increased metabolic benefit that you need? Not really. The truth is, with a good diet, you can lose weight with only 20 minutes of exercise per day.
The reason that 20 minutes is ideal is because it is just enough time to really get your metabolism going and rev up the release of those all-important endorphins. It’s those endorphins that contribute to our willpower when we’re trying to lose weight, mainly because they are the body’s homemade opiate. They come straight from the pituitary gland and they make us feel good – which translates into a positive attitude. Of course, mood-boosting hormones aside, you can always exercise longer to burn a few extra calories, but that 30 minutes may not be possible. Then there’s those 10 minute power workouts, but they tend to leave you feeling like you quit on yourself right when you just started. Somewhere in between lies the ideal, and the key to a productive 20 minute workout means a strategic use of your time – and that means some interval training.
Interval training doesn’t have to be done every time you do a 20 minute workout, but it should be the focus of about half of them if you want to get the most out of your fat burning each week. This means you can alternate between fast walking one day, and your interval training on other days, and still obtain fantastic results.
So, what is interval training?
Interval training sounds a lot more complicated than it is. It simply consists of alternating between bursts of intense activity and lighter activity, and the movements can be as easy as switching off between walking and sprinting, or going faster or slower on any aerobic-center machine (bike, elliptical, etc.). If you want an all-over body workout incorporated into your aerobic interval training, you can pair running or sprinting intervals with other movements, like burpees, pushups, crunches or lunges. There really is no limit to the types of exercises you do when you attempt interval training, so long as they alternate between more intense and lighter activity blocks.
Originally, interval training was used by athletes to increase aerobic capacity, but it became popular with the general public because it also burns more calories in a shorter period of time. This is what makes this type of exercise perfect for those who are following a weight loss plan, and why it is very realistic to lose weight with 20 minutes of exercise per day.
If you don’t believe that only 20 minutes can make such a big difference, try it out! The results you get from incorporating interval activities in those few 20 minutes will not only leave you healthier, but will boost your metabolism to help you meet your weight loss goals. Give it a couple weeks…that’s all the time you’ll need to see for yourself.
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