When I was 8 years old I joined the summer swim team. I absolutely loved the water and kept swimming competitively through my high school years. In the early years, workouts were pretty simple, usually 45 minutes or so. But as I became more and more involved in swimming, my training regimen became more and more intense. At the peak of my career, I was training 3 hours per day, 5 days a week, most of the year. It was often challenging and ultimately rewarding. My life revolved around swimming.
These days I don't do a lot of swimming. I still really enjoy the water, but it's hard for me to motivate myself to get to a pool. I've also realized that my past training program was incorrect. In short, I was over-training. There is simply is no need to train as hard or for as long as I did when I was younger.
What comes to mind when you think about working out? If you're like a lot of my patients you'll likely think of going to a gym, spending 1 hour on a treadmill and then lifting some weights. Or you might think about lacing up your running shoes and going for a 2 hour jog. For some people these workouts are great, but for the vast majority of people, the thought of them is nauseating. And I think there's a reason for that revulsion. It's because we are not meant to work out that way. Not only are humans not designed to do long workout programs, I believe that it may cause serious harm.
In researching alternative ways to workout, I've come to understand that what we really need are intense, heart pumping, can't-catch-your-breath exercise programs. These regimens are short in duration and only need to be done 2 to 3 times per week for optimal benefit.
A good example of this type of program is the Sprint 8 program. Sprint 8 is recommended by Dr. Joseph Mecola (Mercola.com) and has been used both college and professional teams alike.
Here's a quick summary of the workout
1. Warm up for 3 minutes getting the blood circulating
2. After 3 minutes, sprint as hard as you can for 30 seconds.
3. Rest for 90 seconds by walking or pedaling, etc very slowly, allowing your heart rate to come down.
4. After 90 seconds of rest, sprint again for 30 seconds followed by another 90 seconds of rest.
5. Do a total of 8 sprints in this way.
6. After the final sprint, walk/pedal slowly until your heart rate has come down to where it was at the beginning of the workout.
At first you may not want to do 8 sprints. Start with 4 and work your way up to 8 in the course of a few workouts. You could even start with 2 or 3 sprints. The goal is to get your heart rate up until you can't go anymore and then rest.
Below is a link to a very thorough explanation of why this type of exercise is beneficial.
Flood Your Body With This "Youth Hormone" in Just 20 Minutes
And here's Dr. Mercola going through a workout!
The benefits of this type of workout include:
Bottom line is moving our body is VITAL to our health. Whether its a walk with the dog or a more intense workout, our bodies are designed to move and thrive when we use them. The good news is that it doesn't take a huge time commitment to yield a huge health benefit. Check out the 20 minute workout. I think you'll like it.