Quality Over Quantity! Interval Walking Improves Fitness & Health
Health-conscious folks have been known to carry around pedometers to track the number of steps they walk everyday. The target number: 10,000 steps, as a foundation for a healthy lifestyle. Conscientious walkers can now update their device from a pedometer to a smartphone and forget about 10,000 steps with the latest study from Dr. Shizue Masuki of Shinshu University in Japan who found an effective way to increase overall fitness and decrease lifestyle-related disease through Interval Walking Training (IWT).
𝙄𝙩’𝙨 𝙣𝙤𝙩 𝙝𝙤𝙬 𝙢𝙪𝙘𝙝 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙬𝙖𝙡𝙠, 𝙗𝙪𝙩 𝙝𝙤𝙬 𝙞𝙣𝙩𝙚𝙣𝙨𝙚𝙡𝙮 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙙𝙤 𝙨𝙤 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝙖 𝙢𝙞𝙣𝙞𝙢𝙪𝙢 𝙖𝙢𝙤𝙪𝙣𝙩 𝙤𝙛 𝙩𝙞𝙢𝙚 𝙩𝙤 𝙜𝙚𝙩 𝙥𝙤𝙨𝙞𝙩𝙞𝙫𝙚 𝙧𝙚𝙨𝙪𝙡𝙩𝙨. 𝙏𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙛𝙞𝙣𝙙𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙢𝙖𝙮 𝙗𝙚 𝙬𝙚𝙡𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙚 𝙣𝙚𝙬𝙨 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝙩𝙝𝙤𝙨𝙚 𝙬𝙝𝙤 𝙬𝙖𝙣𝙩 𝙩𝙤 𝙨𝙖𝙫𝙚 𝙩𝙞𝙢𝙚 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙜𝙚𝙩 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙢𝙤𝙨𝙩 𝙤𝙪𝙩 𝙤𝙛 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙞𝙧 𝙬𝙤𝙧𝙠𝙤𝙪𝙩.
Interval Walking Training is the method of walking at 70% of the walker’s maximum capacity for 3 minutes, then at 40% of their capacity for the next 3 minutes. This is continued for 5 or more sets. Dr. Masuki studied a group of 679 participants with a medium age of 65 over the course of 5 months. Every two weeks data was collected from participants at a local community office and via the internet through the data measuring device (triaxial accelerometer). The triaxial accelerometer is a device that beeped to let the walker know when they were at least 70% of their peak aerobic capacity (VO2peak), and at 3 minutes to switch. It recorded their walking data to the central server at the administrative center for automatic analysis.
VO2peak is the amount (volume) of oxygen (O2) the body is able to use during physical activity. It is the milliliters of oxygen used by kilogram of body weight per minute. It is determined by measuring the concentration of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the participants breath. When the VO2 number reaches a figure and plateaus during intense exercise, that is the maximum amount of oxygen the person is able to utilize, and is an indicator of fitness. The higher the number, the more they are able to use, and the more intensely they can exert their body. Endurance athletes such as cyclists can have VO2peak in the 70s but please don’t measure yourself against elite endurance athletes— it takes years of intense training to achieve a VO2peak of 70+.
Dr. Masuki found that her method outperformed the recommendation of the American Heart Association that to achieve peak oxygen capacity 75 minutes a week of high-intensity workout is needed for improvement. Participants in Dr Masuki’s study had significant improvements in their aerobic capacity (VO2peak), with 50 minutes of IWT a week. Improvements to their VO2peak were plateaued above 50 minutes a week.
With the study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Dr. Masuki’s participants achieved a 14% increase in VO2peak and a 17% decrease in lifestyle-related disease through IWT. This method is highly desirable due to its ease of maintenance. Many participants remained highly motivated and went beyond their prescribed regimen and it does not require any expensive equipment to walk.(1)
Did you know that many shopping malls around the country open early in the morning and allow walkers to use the concourses for exercise? If you live in a cold climate or can’t afford a gym membership, check around at your town’s local malls to see if they open early for walkers. Even if the malls don’t open early near you, you can pop over during lunch or after dinner for a brisk interval walk. It’s a fantastic and free means of getting exercise.
There are numerous phone apps available for interval training that will allow you to enter your interval parameters to alert you when to hit your max effort and when to shift back to a more comfortable resting pace. Simply search for “interval timer” or “hiit timer” and a bunch of apps will appear.
Source: Shinshu University, Japan. November 1, 2019
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