A new study reported in the BBC this week says that just 15 minutes of exercise a day can boost life expectancy by 3 years and cut the risk of death via disease by 14%. Meanwhile, work in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that a couch potato lifestyle can cut life expectancy by 5 years. The UK government has also recently updated its health advise with a more flexible approach, recommending that adults get 150 minutes of exercise a week; this differs from previous advice which stated that we need to do 3 lots of 20 minutes a week (at a vigorous level) or 5 half hour sessions (at a moderate level) to stay fit and healthy.
The government is right in that a flexible approach is the key. Many people start a fitness regime but are doomed to failure because the 4 times a week 2 hour long session in the gym that they start with is an unrealistic and unsustainable commitment. When we take on a new personal training client we provide a routine for them to do on their own. More often than not the best way to make this achievable and effective is to prescribe small but high intensity workouts that can be done 3 or 4 times a week. But how to make the most of your short session?
Recently endorsed by trainer to the Prime Minister Matt Roberts on Daybreak (ITV 1) we use a system called PHA. This stands for peripheral heart action. By doing strength training exercises in a specific order with no recovery you can get both a good toning workout AND a cardio vascular session all in one go. The following routine is a good example: a brief warm up (fast walking, walking up and down the stairs, jogging on the spot while swinging the arms are all effective) followed by two sets of alternating push ups/ stepping lunges, bent over row/ squats and then tricep dips/ plank. If done with no rest in between this will tone the muscles, raise the metabolic rate, burn fat and get the heart rate up. Lots of birds with one stone! This clever system, also known as supersetting, works by challenging one muscle group while an opposing one is resting, enabling you to do the routine non-stop and getting some lung and heart fitness as a by-product. So the arms are resting while you do the lunges and vice-versa. It should only take up 15 minutes, and thus can be fitted around even the busiest of lifestyles leading to a tones, slim healthy you. Look for demos of these exercises on our youtube page at http://www.youtube.com/user/dietsdontworkuk