If your knees are still young and your mind willing, running is by far the best way to keep your heart and bones strong. It’s by far the easiest way to lose weight but you need to be committed. Recent studies show that swimming and cycling may have very little positive effect against osteoporosis (and can even be putting your bones at risk). And as we learn in grade school, it’s never too young to start keeping your bones strong.
I started running 2 years ago, I admit, to lose weight I had been gaining from childbirth. Not the actual birthing but after I stopped nursing. I started running on a trip to Costa Rica. Not a fan of gyms, driving or working very hard to exercise, running seemed like the least hassling option for looking better. Side benefits I now see are plenty… I eat better as I crave less fatty foods, I feel better as the positive hormones cycle through my body, and people respond to me more favorably creating lots of positive feedback loops. I had been feeling so good about myself that one year after running I started combining it with Iyengar yoga to lengthen the muscle mass I had started to build.
When I started running I only took cues from my body. As I was already in my 40s yet was quite active as a teen and young adult in my 20s, I had some muscle memory and some basic skills that carried through with me. When I first started running I decided that I would run for 3 miles (about 5 kilometers) and do it every other day. My step-son told me that it’s good for the body to have a day off to burn fat.
So I started out. From the outset I decided that I would never stop running. Even if I was going slower than the walkers. I wanted to keep my hips and leg muscles engaged in the running position and I wanted to improve with every run, even if it was just a tiny bit. If I was sick and needed to take a day or two off, I would return to the run a bit slower than my last run. This way I was never discouraged.
I did two other important things: I told myself that I can’t quit. That not running 3 days a week for myself would be like not giving my kids breakfast in the morning or taking the dog out for a walk.
Somehow among all my friends with “great tips” from speed-walking yoga gurus to crossfit enthusiasts, I decided to go with my intuition. In order to advance in my running and improve my heart health and overall effect I would sprint 3 times during my 3 mile run. I normally started the sprinting sessions, about 150 yards at a time, after I had run halfway or even two thirds of the way in. I would start sprinting only at the time when I felt my heart rate was stable (I could feel it inside me, I don’t wear a monitor); and during the sprint I would run as fast as I can.
Being a little competitive I sometimes like to sprint past the people who try to run ahead of me. Lucky for me I live on the Mediterranean Sea so have a lovely wind and backdrop for my sport. Hopefully you too can find a forest or a cool path that makes you happy to run through. One of my rules: never change the route. This way my mind can’t play tricks on me to shorten the route. Also I know what to expect most of the time — although today I saw a colt taking a bath in the sea — did not expect that!
The results of my two year running combined with yoga have been exceptional and it really does boil down to what you do and what you eat. If you run and do piles of yoga but then eat meals of junk food, soda and processed food, well it might not give you the effect you want. That said I do eat whatever I want but cravings for sweets and fried foods and meat have tapered off.
To my chagrin and not surprise a new study on running looks at the approach I have taken and it confirmed my intuition.
In a new observational study that looked at more than 70 scientific papers, the results were in line with what my body had told me. Compared to high intensity training (HIIT) like working out at the gym, taking it in stride with sprinting (SIT) is the key to losing weight.
“The data shows that sprint interval training led to a 39.95% higher reduction in body fat percentage than HIIT. Additionally, SIT participants exercised for 60.84% less time than HII.”
- Sprint interval training (SIT) vs High-intensity interval training (HIIT)
- SIT resulted in a 39.59% higher reduction in body fat percentage than HIIT.
- SIT significantly outperformed HIIT in Body Fat Percentage (BF%) reduction while requiring 60.84% less time spent exercising than HIIT.
- SIT participants spent 81.46% less time sprinting in comparison to time spent doing high-intensity intervals of HIIT.
- On average, SIT conducted 10% fewer workouts per week and these workouts were 44% shorter in comparison to HIIT.
- During these workouts, the SIT group did 4.68% fewer sprints than the HIIT participants did their high-intensity intervals.
- These sprints were 85.64% shorter in duration than the high-intensity intervals of the HIIT group.
- Sprint interval training vs Moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT)
- SIT resulted in a 91.83% higher reduction in body fat percentage than MICT.
- SIT significantly outperformed MICT in Body Fat Percentage (BF%) reduction while requiring 71.17% less time spent exercising.
- SIT participants conducted 15.54% fewer workouts every week on average compared to MICT.
- These workouts for SIT were 60.12% shorter than MICT workouts.
For those that want to try it know that sprint interval training requires intense bursts of energy, where you give it your all, but you have long rests in between (in my case jogging at a slow pace) so it makes it super easy to achieve the desired effects without a lot of time or effort. The key here is just committing to it. Once you have the game plan, stop wasting hours and hours at the gym. You are telling yourself lies and spending money for no reason.
Your time can be spent doing so many other things, like hanging out with your friends or making a healthy home-cooked meal at home for your kids.
Peace out and read about the whole study here.