Exercise on the fast track: Why it works

By: Milo F. Bryant Special to The Gazette
February 24, 2014 Updated: February 24, 2014 at 5:45 pm
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photo - Milo Bryant - Moving the Future
Milo Bryant - Moving the Future 

In my last column, I touched on the topic of 105 seconds of exercise potentially being as beneficial as 30 minutes of jogging.

Without getting too technical, this is why.

First, a disclaimer: I am not anti-jogging or anti-distance running. It is a form of exercise that many love, and that's fine! I love it for those folks. But - admit it, you knew that was coming - when clients come to me wanting to lose weight, "tone up" a little or drop a few pant sizes, jogging isn't in the top 10 on my list of things they will do.

The human body is an amazingly adaptive organism - so adaptive that it eventually makes us do more work to expend the same amount of energy. Stick with me here: We jog a mile today and it requires a specific amount of energy. If we jogged that mile four times a week, in a couple of months it's not going to take nearly as much energy. So to burn the same amount of energy we burned on that first mile, we're going to have to run 1.5 or 2 miles.

More work for the same amount of energy exertion.

Let's look at it a different way. Sometimes when we exercise, we have labored breathing. Using the prior example, after running that first mile, our breathing might be at 7 on a 10-point scale, with 10 being the toughest. That's because our muscles have expended a lot of energy and are asking the heart for more oxygen. As oxygen satiates the muscles, breathing relaxes. Over time, muscles become accustomed to the sub-maximal muscular effort that jogging requires. So, after a couple of months, our breathing after that mile might be at 3 or 3.5.

Not expending as much energy, are we?

Let's look at sprinting, an exercise that involves maximal muscular input. Today, our breathing would be at 8 or 9 after a 100-meter sprint. Four years from now, our breathing still would be at 8 or 9, even if we did that sprint four or five days a week.

Where the real work happens is after the exercises. Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption is huge. Our EPOC from jogging or many other steady-state cardiovascular activities is up to three times less than after a high-intensity workout.

If our nutrition is on point, we will be using fat as a primary fuel source while we repair muscle tissues and replenish cellular nutrients. Using more fat to sustain muscle sounds like a sweet deal to me.

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Bryant is an author and lecturer who holds several national training certifications. His columns appear biweekly in Health and Wellness. Email him at moving thefuture@gmail.com.

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