However, if you really want enjoy those benefits, you need to put some spring in your step. Walk like you're late for the bus. You should be able to carry on a conversation, but you should also be a little breathless when you talk.
According to USA Today:
"You should be able to feel that your heart rate is up. Keep in mind that a brisk walk for one person may be a stroll for another".
Adding more "spring" to your step on a daily basis is a great idea. The more you move around, the healthier you will generally be, and as USA Today reported, women who regularly walk briskly are less likely to gain as much weight as they move into middle age.
The more brisk walking you can incorporate into your daily activities, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or pacing the length of your office when you're on the phone, the better. Walking just 2,000 extra steps a day can burn about 100 extra calories without your even giving it a second thought, and walking has even recently been found to slow cognitive decline, both in adults with cognitive impairment or Alzheimer's disease and in healthy adults.
However, while walking is an inherently healthy activity, you need to be careful about regarding it as your sole form of exercise, as for most this will not be nearly enough. If you make the mistake of following the above advice, which is typical of most media views on exercise, then you will not reap the benefits that exercise can offer you.
Walking Should Generally Not be Your Only Form of Exercise
If you're very out of shape, just starting an exercise program or obese, walking is an excellent beginning fitness routine, as it's low impact and suitable for all fitness levels. However, even then just walking at a snail's pace will not give you the results you're looking for.
For most, though, walking alone is just not intense enough to induce a training response. In most cases, even if you're out of shape to begin with your body will quickly adapt to your walking routine and will require a greater challenge to reap the most benefits.
You really need to increase the intensity of your program and about once or twice a week invest only 20 minutes in a high intensity exercise program like Sprint 8
In fact, when researchers compared aerobic fitness training to a pedometer-based walking program, those who did aerobics for six months had greater reductions in blood pressure and peak oxygen intake and experienced greater health benefits overall. Even then, when you engage in your cardio exercise it's important that you're reaching "peak" intensity to get the greatest health benefits.
Sprint 8 Exercises Twice a Week is a Great Cardio Workout
Many people shy away from cardio because they associate it with grueling hour-long sessions on the treadmill. But you can actually get a far more challenging, comprehensive cardio workout in just 20 minutes when you use Sprint 8 exercises.
Sprint 8 exercises raise your heart rate up to your anaerobic threshold for 20 to 30 seconds, and then you recover for 90 seconds. You then repeat this cycle for a total of eight repetitions. We call it "Peak Fitness" because if you graph your heart rate, you will see that it peaks 8 times during the workout.
In this video, Phil Campbell and I demonstrate how it's done.
One of the major reasons I am so enthusiastic about Peak Fitness is because high-intensity peak-exercises promote human growth hormone (HGH), also known as "the fitness hormone."
HGH is a synergistic, foundational biochemical underpinning that promotes muscle and effectively burns excessive fat. It also plays an important part in promoting overall health and longevity.
If you're over the age of 30, especially if you lead an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, you've likely entered a phase known as somatopause (age-related growth hormone deficiency). As your HGH levels decrease, your levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) also decrease. This is an important part of what drives your body's aging process.
The nice thing about Sprint 8 exercises is that you can perform them with any type of exercise -- with or without equipment. So, while having access to a gym or exercise equipment will provide you with a larger variety of options, you don't have to have either. You can just as easily perform Sprint 8 by walking or running outdoors.
By exercising in short bursts, followed by periods of recovery, you create exactly what your body needs for optimum health, and that includes both the production of growth hormones and the burning of excess body fat.
Rounding Out Your Fitness Routine
You really do need a comprehensive approach to exercise, which is a major part of our Peak Fitness exercise approach.
Ideally you want to have a variety of exercises and avoid doing the same ones all the time, as this will lead to a relative tolerance and you will not provide your body with the variety of stresses it needs to continuously adapt, improve, and grow stronger.
There are three types of exercise in addition to Sprint 8 that will turn your Peak Fitness regimen into a truly comprehensive exercise plan:
- Strength Training: Rounding out your exercise program with a 1-set strength training routine will ensure that you're really optimizing the possible health benefits of a regular exercise program. You need enough repetitions to exhaust your muscles. The weight should be heavy enough that this can be done in fewer than 12 repetitions, yet light enough to do a minimum of four repetitions. It is also important NOT to exercise the same muscle groups every day. They need at least two days of rest to recover, repair and rebuild.
- Core Exercises: Your body has 29 core muscles located mostly in your back, abdomen and pelvis. This group of muscles provides the foundation for movement throughout your entire body, and strengthening them can help protect and support your back, make your spine and body less prone to injury and help you gain greater balance and stability.
Pilates and yoga are great for strengthening your core muscles, as are specific exercises you can learn from a personal trainer. Even if a personal trainer is not in the cards for you right now, please watch these sample videos for examples of healthy exercise routines you can do with very little equipment and in virtually any location. Focusing on your breath and mindfulness along with increasing your flexibility is an important element of total fitness.
- Stretching: My favorite types of stretches are active isolated stretching (AIS) developed by Aaron Mattes. It's an amazing way to get flexibility back into your system, and it's completely different from the traditional type of stretching.
If you're still on the fence about starting an exercise program, there's no time like the present. I guarantee you it will make a major difference in your energy levels, self-esteem and probably your entire outlook on life. It really is that powerful.