OK, so I’m somewhat shooting myself in the foot with that title, but it’s true – you shouldn’t believe every piece of exercise advice you read.
In one of my favourite magazines, Real Simple, they always have a section allocated to health, wellness and exercise tips. This month, their in-house health guru (not sure if he/she is a personal trainer or has any education in the area) reviewed 6 relatively new exercise fads and whether they are worthy of your precious time.
- Barefoot running shoes
- CrossFit workouts
- Digital body monitors
- TRX Suspension trainer
- High-intensity interval training
- Myofascial release therapy
My major issue was with the review on high-intensity interval training (HITT). Again, I’m not sure who wrote the piece and yes, they did consult with health experts, but what makes them the expert? Because they own a gym? Anyways, the health “expert” who was referenced in the HIIT review (who was a gym owner for your information) states that “HIIT is an excellent approach to cardio…your body’s metabolism stays elevated for a longer period of time”. And I completely agree, it is an excellent approach to cardio and will result in an elevated metabolic rate for 24-48 hours post-exercise session (though exercise has to be above 70% of your maximal oxygen intake level). But, yes there’s a but, HIIT is, as the name reveals, highly intense. This particular health expert, nor the writer of the article, mentions the dangers of engaging in this form of exercise.
Dangers? Yes, dangers. If you were thinking about getting into the exercise game and read “HIIT may be more effective at whittling fat from the belly and legs”, what would you do? Would you start slow, increase your fitness gently, or would you grab your trainers and start sprinting? Any time we hear the mention of “whittling belly fat” we’re hooked. And then, two days after that intense session, with our muscles screaming and our brain telling us to quit, we quit. Quitting is just one of the many dangers.
The second danger depends on our current health state. If you have a heart condition, diabetes, asthma, joint pain, or tendon issues, talk to your doctor. Secondly, if you and the couch have grown close over the last couple of months and / or you are carrying more weight than you should be for your height, age, and sex, talk to your doctor. Seriously, your doctor should have a good idea of what form of exercise will best work for you. Yet, some doctors are pressed for time and give very little advice when it comes to exercise and healthy eating. If this is your particular dilemma, I would encourage you to connect with a certified exercise physiologist. They have engaged in training and formal education to earn that designation and will be able to prescribe an exercise regimen that is right for you.
So there you have it – don’t believe everything you read. While most of you know I am a huge fan of HIIT, I also realize that it is not right for everyone. Magazines and newspapers are often limited for space and want to make a splash. Knowing this will hopefully make you a more savvy exerciser.
Images from Flikr – Creative Commons
Running Shoes – TimTak
Running Man – esbjorn2