It seems as if a day cannot go by without the media bombarding us with all sorts of conflicting information regarding cardiovascular exercise. Those of you who have heard me on this subject know that I am not a fan of cardiovascular exercise when it comes to weight loss. To achieve long-term successful weight loss, you should allocate 25% of your exercise time to cardiovascular exercise, and the remaining 75% should be devoted to strength and resistance exercise. Translation, if you workout for 40 minutes, then start with a 10 minute cardio warm-up followed by 30 minutes of strength and resistance training.
Even the cardio proponents are in disagreement. First, we heard that to lose weight, the average person requires 60 minutes of cardio a day. Within that 60-minute recommendation, were such activities as cleaning, gardening, washing the car, shopping, etc., in addition to many others. Bottom line, they said keep moving for a total of 60 minutes each day. All of these activities are beneficial, however, so many individuals translate this advice into, "I'll stay on the treadmill, StairMaster or elliptical for 60 minutes. I'll keep moving and the weight will fly off." Wrong. An hour on these machines will not get you to your weight loss goal, however, by performing some of the recommended "keep moving activities" you'll be accomplishing some of life's necessary activities.
"To achieve long-term successful weight loss, you should allocate 25% of your exercise time to cardiovascular exercise, and the remaining 75% should be devoted to strength and resistance exercise."
It Is All About Heart Rate
This past week, research from Europe stated that walking does little or nothing to reduce the risk of heart disease. For the most part that is correct. What they neglected to tell us is that it is all about heart rate. Take an out of shape person for a walk, just a moderately brisk walk, and their heat rate will race. I used to make my grandmother, whom we call "yia yia" in Greek, for lunch and purposely make her walk for 20 minutes to the restaurant. She was in her 80s, and her heart rate would be about 120 beats per minute. That's all that matters. Not the activity, but the heart rate the activity produces.
Running is more intense than walking and obviously produces a higher heart rate. Walking on an incline will also produce a higher rate. Keep in mind, that for those individuals who are in shape, these activities will not necessary produce a higher heart rate. Their hearts are conditioned to this level of activity. In order for them to increase their heart rate they will have to constantly increase the level of activity, something that eventually becomes impractical, if not impossible.
So, it's not the activity. It's your fitness level. I hate to see fit people moseying on a treadmill. Unless they plan on staying all day, it will not do much for their risk of heart disease, nor will it burn many calories - remember, the higher the intensity, the more calories burned.
"I hate to see fit people moseying on a treadmill. Unless they plan on staying all day…"
I have recently been in San Francisco on business. The hills are a killer - not easy walking. Anyone who has walked up Nob Hill would agree. So perform all the gardening, car washing, walking the dog, cleaning of your home you want, but realize that these activities along with strolling on the cardio equipment is not going to facilitate weight loss. What will facilitate weight loss, permanent weight loss, is strength and resistance training. Lift and you will lose!
About Jim Karas