Iinterval-style workouts — brief bouts of very hard exercise broken up by periods of recovery — have been shown to improve the health and fitness of people who exert themselves for only a few minutes a week. Such efficiency is alluring, and has helped this kind of conditioning attract widespread media attention in recent years (including in this column). But high-intensity interval training programs aren’t for everyone. As researchers from Australia and England point out in the December issue of Frontiers in Psychology,“a largely sedentary population” is unlikely to “feel physically capable and sufficiently motivated to take up and maintain a regime of highly intense exercise.” That doubt is what makes some news out of Japan about a much-less-punishing form of interval training so welcome.
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A decade ago, scientists led by Dr. Hiroshi Nose at the Shinshu University Graduate School of Medicine in Matsumoto, Japan, started developing walking programs. They knew that walking was physically the easiest (and also the most practical) exercise for those in middle age and older, but the researchers suspected that people might need to push themselves to achieve the greatest health benefits. So they created a regimen consisting of three minutes of fast walking at a pace that Nose says approximates a 6 or 7 on a scale of exertion from 1 to 10. Each “somewhat-hard” three-minute spell was followed by three minutes of gentle strolling. Read full article…
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