When it comes to fitness, there’s no greater debate than that over optimal length and frequency of workouts.
For example: If given the choice, is it healthier to run 30 minutes every single day, or run for 60 minutes but only three times a week?
Obviously, any physical activity is better than none, but which way is the best way when it comes to achieving optimal fitness? Our expert weighs in.
60 Minutes, Three Times A Week:
Exercising for 60 minutes will benefit you in this sense; it will get your system into overdrive, meaning that you will burn more calories. The muscles around will also participate as the major muscles will get tired and will need help to continue for the extra 30 minutes. Think about a hockey team. There are 5 players on the ice and they improve their game and get stronger. Once tired, they go back to the bench, and the other players get to go on the ice and play. If the 5 main players never get tired, then they won’t go back to the bench and the other players won’t get a chance to get better. So that is what the 60 minutes of exercise will do. It will force your body to create more muscle fibers once they reach the fatigue point. The muscles push the fat away and increase in strength. Like giving a chance to other players to get some ice time.
However, it is a double edge sword. Most of us, when we feel tired, have a hard time pushing as hard and keeping our form. So we tend to give up some of our energy spent in the name of fatigue. We kind of slack off to say this in a term that we all understand… so the second half of our run isn’t as effective as the first half hour. If we could give the same amount of energy in the second half, then the second half would be worth it. But given the fact that we do not expend as much during longer workouts, for some people, shorter periods of exercise might be more beneficial. Within 2 hours, we even start producing cortisol, which will even keep our body from burning fat. So ‘the longer the better is not true.
In light of this, we realize that it is not the length that counts, but the intensity.
30 Minutes Every Day
Not only a more succinct amount of exercise will allow you to give your all and maintain intensity throughout, a shorter workout will also protect your joints. As running is an impact activity, it might be better to run for a shorter time and give your joints less impact. Once tired, the bouncing action can create damage. With this in mind, a small run might be better. Also, if you do a shorter run, you might want to increase the speed with intervals, going full-on for 30 sec or a minute, then slowing down… then full-on again, then slowing down… these intervals will allow you to burn fat. The other factor in the title of this article mentions every day. That might be a lot on your joints to constantly put them under impact. You may want to find other cardio vascular activity that will be more forgiving on your joints.
Bottom line? There is no “one right answer,” and so long as you’re exercising, you’re probably doing good things for your health.
There are pros and cons to both approaches, but at the end of the day, if you’re moving you’re doing your body good. The point is to choose a method that will work for you and keep you motivated. Mix it up, if you need to; get in a few 60-minute workouts and some 30-minute workouts, depending on your schedule.
About the Author: NATHALIE PLAMONDON