Going the distance
We all know you have to exercise to lose weight, but guess what? You should probably be exercising a lot more. According to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, overweight people should work out for at least an hour (that’s double the amount usually recommended for general fitness), five days a week to melt away the pounds effectively. Oh, and the study also concludes that the workouts should be at higher levels of intensity than you might think. We checked in with our resident fitness expert, personal trainer Michelle Blakely, to find out how to amp up simple workouts and sizzle serious calories. Get ready to sweat—but remember to consult your doctor before undertaking any new workout plan.
Blakely says to keep three things in mind when increasing the intensity of your exercises:
1. Speed It’s pretty much a no-brainer, but just pick up the pace and the difficulty of your workout instantly increases. In an hour-long outdoor walk, alternate walking for three blocks and jogging for one, Blakely says. If counting blocks isn’t your thing, use your iPod to help. Walk for a song, and then jog for a song—just keep switching up your pace for about an hour.
2. Position “Be sure to get your arms involved even when the move doesn’t require any arm movements,” Blakely says. For example, punch the air during jogs or while you’re on the stationary bike, and pump your arms on the elliptical. Blakely says that adding those moves recruits more muscle groups and makes your heart work even harder.
3. Resistance When you’re on cardio machines like the stair-climber or treadmill, increase the resistance level every three minutes. For example, Blakely says if you start your workout at level four, increase it to level six for the next three minutes before returning to the original level and continuing to alternate between the two. If your exercise routine involves jogging on a treadmill, Blakely suggests jogging for three minutes and then boosting the incline to two or three percent for a minute. Another surefire way to make you sweat more? “Always sign up for higher intensity classes at the gym,” Blakely says. Spinning and boot-camp classes are two good ones to try.