Can a Low-Intensity Workout Improve Your Health?

High-intensity workouts tend to get the most credit for improving health and fitness, but research suggests that low-intensity workouts may also improve your health and fitness if done right.  Intensity is generally determined by your heart rate, but you don’t have to bog yourself down in heart rate gadgets or mathematical calculations to determine intensity for yourself.  You can judge the intensity of your workout simply by observing your breathing patterns and whether you’re sweating.  Can you carry on a conversation while you’re engaged in your workout?  If yes, then you are likely in a low-intensity exercise.400-04143383c28129_field_img_hero_988_380

Who benefits most from low-intensity exercise?

Both beginners and long-time fitness enthusiasts can benefit from low intensity exercise.  Low-intensity exercise is a safe starting point for anyone new to exercise, struggling with obesity, or recently diagnosed with a heart condition. Developing a fitness routine and building consistency is often done through building a habit of long, low-intensity walking or swimming.  In fact, a 2008 study done by researchers at the University of Georgia found that sedentary adults can benefit from beginning with only twenty minutes of low-intensity exercise every day.  It’s the “every day” part that matters, though.  Staying consistent is what ultimately improves your health and fitness.

Fitness enthusiasts engaged in regular high-intensity exercise can also benefit from adding low-intensity exercise to their workout routine.  Those engaged in high volume strength training or training for an endurance event (i.e. a marathon), can remain active on recovery days by adding low-intensity exercise to their training plans.  Any movement can help alleviate soreness and facilitate recovery of overworked muscles and tendons without placing any additional strain on bones and joints.

How to make it work for you.

The two most important aspects of adding low-intensity exercise to your workout plan are consistency and length of time.  Low-intensity exercise, on average, burns approximately 2.5 calories per minute. To reap the same calorie burn as a high-intensity workout requires a much longer duration of the exercise.

Consistency may matter even more for beginners.  If the goal is to improve your health and fitness and you’re starting with low-intensity exercise, the purpose of low-intensity exercise should be to build an exercise habit.  As your health and fitness begin to improve, it’s important to extend the duration or increase the intensity for you to continue to see results.

If you’re a beginner or you’ve been diagnosed with any health condition, talk to your medical provider to determine if low-intensity exercise is safe for you. If you’re unsure where or how to get started, stop by the FitClub front desk and speak with a personal trainer than can get you started with a plan that meets your unique goals.

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