The other day I read the results of a few studies editorialized in the New York Times that spoke to the benefits of shorter, harder workouts and getting fitter faster—perfect for those who are short on time, which is apparently all of us! The article highlighted several studies done on small samples of people who performed short spurts of intense activity as opposed to more moderate activities that take longer to complete. Though a result of some of these experiments was quicker increased aerobic capacity, other findings were mixed, as muscle building was not a significant side effect, nor was excessive energy expenditure, which means this might not be the best solution for long term weight maintenance, much less weight loss.
Performing quick, intense intervals is not mind blowing stuff, nor is it a new concept. It simply trains your body’s system in a different way, so while you may get that increased aerobic capacity from these short bursts, scientists can’t speak to the long term benefits. And they don’t see any increase in strength, which is a key component to general fitness and health.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because despite the results of these studies showing a clear, quick fix for fitness, I am not intrigued. Not even a little. After reading, I took a step back for a moment of metacognition and realized that I didn’t care for the latest fad because I have a routine that not only works for me, but provides me with an immense amount of satisfaction and enjoyment. You know you’ve found the right sport or activity when you hear studies talking about how you can do less of something and still reap the benefits, but you disregard the results and continue to go longer or farther anyway. To what I’m referring is the love of the game and how strong that love can be when a time-saving workout for a busy person, such as myself, holds zero appeal.
I’m an endurance athlete. I love to run long. I’m programed for delayed gratification. I’m a work horse. Anything less than 6 miles begs the question, “Is this even worth me getting on my running clothes?” The more I push, the harder I know I’m working, and that makes me feel a certain level of bad-assery. I enjoy the stretch of time it takes to complete a long run and I especially enjoy how I can have some of my most special and thought provoking conversations with friends on those long runs. It’s a devoted time reserved just for me, my thoughts, or my fellow runners who share my sentiments. I also love a fast closing mile and good sweat because I know I’ve worked it out hard.
The idea of “just getting it over with” is abhorrent to me because if I’m doing something good for my mind and body, I want to enjoy each minute, though we all know that’s not possible for every run or workout. Heck, with this Arizona summer heat, I’m relegated to a stationary bike if I choose not to get up and run before work, and that’s not always the day’s highlight. Though, I have to say, I do enjoy getting the chance to read while I’m biking. Not only does it help pass the time, it kind of transports me to a different place of enjoyment.
In the end, it doesn’t matter how long you’re working out, because it’s certainly different for everyone, just as long as you’re feeling good when you’re done. And just as long as you’re making time for yourself. #lifeisgood Pass it on.