Exercise is Bigger than Weight Loss
Many people exercise to lose weight or get in shape, at least initially. While improving your physical appearance is a common motivator, exercise can improve many aspects of your health. From more well-known outcomes such as strengthening muscles to improving heart health, and lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, to mental and emotional improvements such as stress relief and lower anxiety levels, exercise is much bigger than weight loss.
The ability to build and maintain bone strength is just one more important, yet often under-appreciated, reason consistent exercise is so critical to your overall wellbeing. As we age, our bones are more likely to become weak and fragile which can limit our mobility and independence. While there are calcium and vitamin D supplements like Cal-EZ that further promote bone health, no supplement can replace the benefit of physical activity in improving and maintaining strong bones.
Why High-Intensity Training (HIIT)?
The two most effective exercises for building strong bones are weight-bearing exercise such as walking or dancing and strength-training exercises such as using free weights or doing push-ups, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. High-intensity interval training is a mix of both weight-bearing and strength-training, and is proven to be one of the most effective ways to stimulate bone and muscle growth and burn more calories over a longer period. In other words, the types of weight bearing and strength training exercises you do can further improve bone density and in turn, help prevent conditions such as osteoporosis.
High-intensity training, or HIIT, is an exercise style where movements are performed at around 80% of your maximal effort. This is done for a period of time ranging from seconds to minutes and alternated with lower-impact movements where you either rest or perform movements at 40-50% of your maximal effort. Not only do these HIIT workouts burn more calories post-exercise, they have also been shown to increase bone density more than steady movements such as running or walking.
As a personal trainer, my favorite type of workout to do with my clients is high-intensity. It’s also my go-to in my own exercise routine. I’ve seen firsthand the positive results from constantly keeping my body guessing and working hard to improve both my strength and stamina. It also improves balance, which is another important factor at any level, but especially as we age.
Must-Try Workout Moves
HIIT workouts can be tailored to fit each person. Time intervals and movements can be adjusted to fit any fitness level, which makes HIIT so versatile. Some examples of bodyweight movements to include in a HIIT routine are:
- Jumping jacks
The key to HIIT workouts are to alternate those periods of high intensity work with those of lower intensity. These types of workouts can even be done at home if you don’t have access to a gym or weights. Depending on your age, fitness level, and injury history, there is an HIIT workout out there for you.
Tabata is one popular HIIT workout where you do each exercise for 8 rounds, working 20 seconds and resting 10 seconds in between. The goal is to complete all 8 rounds at 80% of your maximum effort before moving on to the next movement. Rest 30 seconds – 1 min between movements.
- Jump squats
- Push ups
- Tricep dips on a chair
- Side lunges
With all the positive benefits of exercising, I think it’s time to get up from your computer and get moving so you can strengthen your bones, muscles and body!
Who’s ready to try HIIT? What questions do you have about HIIT? Let me know in the comments!
Note: Always make sure to check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program. What works for someone else may not always be appropriate for you!