Pete McCall, an exercise physiologist, says, "Less-intense cardio and strength workouts can actually be more effective in some ways than the very difficult ones." High intensity cardio causes you to work anaerobically, which means that most of the calories you burn will be in the form of carbohydrates. Your body needs fuel - fast - and carbs are the go-to energy source. Less intense workouts, in which you keep your heart rate lower, may burn fewer carbohydrates but the duration of the workout tends to be longer. This means more total calories burned. The key here is the longer workout.
Slow may be healthier than hardcore. Researchers followed people who did similar amounts of slow, moderate and strenuous running over the course of twelve years. They found that the light exercisers had a much lower mortality rate than the intense group. The moderate exercisers fell somewhere in between. Experts aren't sure why slow may be superior but some believe the stress that super-hard workouts place on your system may be a factor. Intense exercise causes a cascade of hormones which create a lot of free radicals and inflammation in the body. Over time, this has the potential to damage your immune system and may lead to chronic health issues.
McCall says, "I'm not saying you should never take another spinning class, but what we now know is that slow and steady is often better than hard and fast." My take-away from this information is the confidence to know that my moderate intensity workout days are good for my body and help create balance in my workout week. McCall adds, "There's the perception that if your workout doesn't make you feel like you're going to die, it's somehow lame - or beginner. That's not the case."
For my body, I find it works well to push for a high intensity workout once or twice a week and then feel good about balancing the rest of my week with slower movement.
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