10 reasons to go slow on your cardio
High intensity interval training (HIIT) has been hailed as the key to fitness. But if exercise in the fast lane isn’t your style, you’ll be happy to hear that studies have proven leisurely paced exercise to be just as good for you. In fact, in many ways it’s a lot better for you:
Slow and steady wins the race
High intensity training may give you a more instant result, but doing slower exercise over a longer period of time will give you longer-lasting results – and they’re the kind of results we like best of all.
You won’t crave carbs
After a rigorous gym session, your first port of call might be the fridge. ‘When people do high intensity training there is a tendency to overeat,’ reveals Dan Roberts, strength and conditioning coach. If you don’t work as hard, you don’t get as hungry, so you won’t wreck your diet.
Healthier insulin levels and lower triglycerides
Studies such as that published in PLOS ONE (the Public Library of Science) also showed slow workouts can have great health benefits. Volunteers who spent two hours standing and four hours walking each day had healthier insulin levels and lower triglycerides (a type of fat in your blood) than when they spent an hour cycling in the gym.
You’ll be more motivated to exercise
Who fancies racing uphill on a treadmill after a long day at work? Not many people, that’s for sure. ‘A leisurely workout is infinitely better to skipping exercise entirely,’ fitness expert Laura Williams advises. So if by going slow you’re more likely to move from that sofa, it’s definitely worth doing.
Mix ‘n’ match
There’s no reason why you can’t do a slow form of exercise one day and a high intensity workout the next. In fact, it’s probably a really good idea. Our bodies respond best when there’s variety in our fitness regimes so if you think you can handle a bit of fast-paced circuit training, give it a go one day in place of your yoga class.
High intensity interval training doesn’t work for everyone
Kathryn Freeland, celebrity trainer and MD of Absolute Fitness, says: ‘High intensity workouts have dominated the press but one workout doesn’t suit everyone. We are all different, physically and mentally, and have varied schedules. People need few excuses to not exercise, but they need to remember some exercise is always better than doing none at all.’
Build your fitness up slowly
Now you can embrace the fact that you don’t have to push yourself to the limit, build your fitness by walking, swimming or doing a once around with the vacuum. The NHS advises adults to undertake 30 minutes of aerobic activity at a moderate level, five times a week.
You will lose weight more efficiently
A study of 201 overweight women in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine found longer duration exercise at a moderate intensity had a more profound effect on weight loss than training for less time at a high intensity did. Yes, you read that right. The people who did a more leisurely workout lost more weight than those who went went hell-for-leather at the gym.
For a wider choice of exercises
As soon as our body becomes used to an exercise it starts becoming less effective. That’s why it’s important for us to introduce variety into our fitness regimes. Slow exercise gives us many more options than high intensity workouts. Even doing the vacuuming or walking the dog can be considered a form of exercise.
To relieve stress
Any form of exercise –no matter how slow- releases endorphins in your brain that make you feel good and relieve stress. Hard day at the office? Consider walking home rather than waiting for the bus.