|Stairs & Hills for Health
When it comes to exercise, the steepness of
the slope has a huge effect on the final outcome. Rather than working out for
hours in a flat and stable environment, fitness lovers are doing more with less
by learning to enjoy the climb. Whether it's taking the stairs to work or
choosing the hilly section for your evening run, the underlying principle of
high intensity interval training (HIIT) can be applied to any situation where
there is a curve.
Everyone has heard about the benefits of
regular yet sporadic exercise. Whether it's walking to the station, standing up
at your work desk, or doing a few star jumps during your lunch break, breaking
up long periods of inactivity is more important than doing long periods of
activity. Healthy natural rhythms are not accurately described by a prolonged
series of moderate movements, but rather by multiple sets of differing
intensities and durations.
HIIT is the most famous example of this
philosophy, with short periods of intense activity combined with longer and
less intense recovery periods. In a sense, HIIT is an effort to induce novelty
in the time domain, with the flat but slightly elevated heart rate of
traditional exercise regimes transformed into a series of peaks and troughs.
While this kind of intense exercise is not safe or ideal for everyone, it has
proven to be more effective and efficient for most.
HIIT is known to improve athletic capacity,
enhance physical condition, and improve glucose metabolism among other positive
outcomes. While additional motivation and physical capacity is required to
benefit from this training, the ebbs and flows of HIIT and similar fitness
programs seem to mirror our natural physical responses. As we exercise, our
body responds and makes adjustments over time. While consistency is the key to
fitness success, it's equally important to shake things up to avoid your body
or mind from getting too relaxed.
As it turns out, alternating periods of
intensity with periods of rest is not the only way to benefit from this
insight, with the curves of HIIT making just as much sense when they're brought
into the real world. Incidental activity is the key, with real-world curves and
slopes offering the benefits of HIIT throughout your daily life. Whether it's
walking up and down the big hill close to your home or taking the stairs to the
office, the natural ups and downs of your local landscape can be used to
improve your general health.
As we strive for more comfort and security
in modern life, additional effort is needed to avoid feeling flat. As it turns
out, focusing on novelty and variation is much more effective than doing the
same tired exercise regimes day after day. When you mirror the natural rhythms
of your heart and physical responses with the ups and downs of your natural environment,
you really are working smarter and not harder.