When it comes to maximising your health benefits from exercise, intensity is one of the MOST important factors. The quality of exercise over quantity, intensity not duration are all things we need to be aware of, but however which way you want to say it, the time has long gone when you have to spend hours at the gym to reap the health benefits from exercise.
So, what do we mean when we say intensity? In every day terms it is the amount of work we do in a certain amount of time. It is something that is relative to the individual. This can mean the maximum load you can carry, the maximum speed you can maintain on the air bike for 5min, how fast you can carry a load from A to B. We are not trying to compare ourselves to others, intensity is relative to YOU. It refers to how hard your body is working during exercise and It is the difference between you strolling through a 5min max cal airbike challenge as opposed to finding the maximum sustainable pace possible.
Who can relate to not wanting to go to the gym because they think they need to be spending hours exercising? Well the research says we don’t have to. Increasing our intensity reduces the amount of time we need to spend at the gym all the while giving us more health benefits.
We are a society that is obsessed with volume, but before you plan on spending hours at the gym remember, intensity is one of the MOST important factors in you getting the most health benefits from your next session.
Want to know more? Check out these references:
Research (Gill et. al. 2007)“…intensity of physical activity is inversely and linearly associated with mortality.” (Warburton DE, Nicol CW, Bredin SS. Health benefits of physical activity: the evidence. CMAJ. 2006;174:801–809).“Improvement in insulin sensitivity after six months combined supervised group training in female diabetic subjects is related to exercise intensity…” (Dunstan DW, Daly RM, Owen N, Jolley D, De Courten M, Shaw J, Zimmet P: High-intensity resistance training improves glycemic control in older patients with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care25 :1729 –1736,2002).Light activities were not associated with reduced mortality rates, moderate activities appeared somewhat beneficial, and vigorous activities clearly predicted lower mortality rates. These data provide some support for current recommendations that emphasize moderate intensity activity; they also clearly indicate a benefit of vigorous activity.” (Lee IM, Paffenbarger RS Jr. Associations of light, moderate, and vigorous intensity physical activity with longevity. The Harvard Alumni Health Study. Am J Epidemiol 2000;151:293-9).