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Reviewed by Michael Smith on August 07, 2012

Sources

The American Council on Exercise; The Journal of Applied Physiology

© 2006 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved.

WebMD Archive

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Narrator: If you've ever given up on exercising because you didn't see results fast enough, then interval training may be for you.

Dori Ricci : I think generally the biggest mistake that people make is that when they initially start an exercise program they usually either do too little or too much.

Narrator: Interval training alternates bursts of high intensity movements with short recovery breaks. It's one of the most efficient ways to strengthen your cardiovascular system. And…

Dori Ricci : It's more fun. You're doing a lot of different things. You're not doing the same thing for the entire hour.

Narrator: Routines can include anything from swimming to weight training. Not only that, but you're alternating between your all out pace and active resting, which keeps things from becoming too monotonous. But perhaps the best news is that you burn more calories in less time.

Brunilda Nazario, MD: What that's doing is really challenging the body so that your aerobic capacity becomes higher.

Narrator: It's not so much what you do, but how hard you do it that's important. Experts say increasing the intensity of your workout will more than make up for the shorter workout sessions.

Bill Adams: It's kind of like running sprints verses jogging.

Narrator: Sprinting for 30 seconds to a minute and then slowing to a jog until you're ready to go again is a perfect example of interval training. But don't let yourself get too comfortable. Rest just long enough to catch your breath. By doing so, you're enhancing the ability of your heart and lungs to supply oxygen to working muscles, which increases both strength and endurance.

Roman Fortin: If they're doing something full speed for 30 seconds they should be out of breath, but what happens when they are in better shape, they can recover faster so 15 seconds later, they are ready to go again.

Narrator: Interval training can also recruit muscles that you don't normally use, helping your body burn more calories, even when you're not working out. And switching things up will maximize your effort while you are working out.

Dori Ricci : If you do the same type of exercise all the time then your body gets used to that and it doesn't change as much, but when you do interval training it's really hard for your body to get used to that.

Narrator: Before you begin a strenuous exercise routine see your doctor, that's especially important if you have health concerns or are over 50. And always remember to warm up for at least ten minutes before each session to reduce your chances of injury. All will be time well spent.

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