Exercise Much?

Who doesn’t love a good heart-racing workout?  A relaxing yoga session?  A core-building Pilates class?

Well, according to a new study, we should only be exercising 4 times a week.  Let me explain…

Today’s New York Times features a blog post: Getting the Right Does of Exercise.  Why Four Workouts a Week May be Better than Six.  

What?

Key things to point out here – the study features women, exercise was not already a “normal” part of their routine, the women were age 60-74.

For the new study, published this month in Exercise & Science in Sports & Medicine, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham gathered 72 older, sedentary women and randomly assigned them to one of three exercise groups:

1.  1 day/week aerobic activity, 1 day/week strength training (2 days/week)

2.  2 days/week aerobic activity, 2 days/week strength training (4 days/week)

3.  3 days/week aerobic activity, 3 days/week strength training (6 days/week)

Aerobic activity was 40 minutes of aerobic exercise at 80% maximum heart rate and resistance training was 2 sets of 10 repetitions for 10 different exercises at 80% of one repetition maximum.

The results?  All of the women gained endurance and muscle strength and there was no fitness capacity difference between the groups.  The women who worked out 4 days/week were expending more energy overall–burning more calories throughout the day.  The women who worked out 6 days/week were expending less energy (about 200 calories) each day than when the study began.  These women did not report feeling run down, rather, they reported feeling pressed for time to fit in exercise each day.

Source: Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

It’s interesting to read the science but I still go by the do what feels best approach.  I hope when I’m 74 I’m still working out at least 4 days/week!

Thoughts on 2/4/6 days?  What’s today’s workout?
What health/fitness news did you read today?

A quick blog note–I’ll be moving to self-hosted by next week.  I know sometimes the WordPress migration means followers don’t migrate.  So if you’re signed up to follow the blog via email and next week you’re not receiving emails, I hope you’ll check back and sign up again!

Back of the Pack

Today’s post is just an observation from the weekend…

Back in the days of marathon training I used to be hitting the pavement at 5am!  Now a weekend run might start at 9am or 10am – after I’ve had a chance to do a little household catch-up.

Saturday was a beautiful morning for a run and I ended up running into (literally) the end of a 1/2 marathon.  It started at 7am and by 10am there were still people on the course.  I ended up running along the last 3/4 mile of the course – opposite those running their last 3/4-1/2 mile.  It was a humbling run.

My fresh legs and energy had me running sub 8-min miles (I don’t know where this speed is coming from!).  The runners coming toward me were running a 13 or 14-minute/mile and were tired.  Some were in pain and the cops on bikes were encouraging them to make it to the finish.  I cheered people along – giving them a thumb’s up or a “Way to go”.  Some people smiled, some people gave me the, “I know the finish is near.  I’m in the zone and trying to make it.  Please take your cheering elsewhere,” – look.  I know this look.  I’ve flashed it at people.

It was a good reminder that we come in all shapes and sizes and all fitness levels.  The person who finished 5th and the person who finished 205th both can call themselves a 1/2 marathoner.  They both earned the finisher medal.  It was also a reminder how how precious health and mobility are and a motivator to keep moving and keep health and wellness at the forefront.  So I pushed myself for the last couple of miles.  I used to run with a friend who would always tell me to go faster – that if I finished a run and I could still move and breathe, I’d gone too slow.  

Here’s a NYTimes blog post about running a marathon “in the slow lane“.  Writer (and runner) Tara Parker-Pope says, “It didn’t matter how fast I finished, just that I was out there, enjoying the view from the back of the pack.”

How do you cheer on runners?  Do you prefer to spectate or participate?  Care to share a workout “a-ha” moment?