Five 2-minute sessions of stair climbing can give you a heart-pumping workout equivalent to 36 minutes of walking, according to a new study. When researchers tested 15 healthy but inactive young women (average age 18) for 8 weeks, those who worked up to climbing 199 steps in about 2 minutes, five times a day, posted a whopping 17% increase in cardio fitness levels compared with women who did nothing. The climbers also lowered their bad LDL cholesterol by 8%, an improvement that can cut heart disease risk by up to one-quarter. In a follow-up study, 29 older men and women (average age 40) did even less stair climbing (145 steps in 2-minute bouts, three times a day) and boosted their cardio fitness by 8%.
A 2001 study by the University of Maryland found that resting metabolic rate increased by about 7% after six months of intense weight training. Other studies have indicated the increase may be as much as 15%. Every pound of lean muscle burns an additional 30 to 50 calories a day. Intense weight training may add 3 to 6 pounds of muscle in six months. Men build muscle more easily than women. Since muscle is denser than fat, pound for pound it takes up less space. A pound of muscle is 30% smaller than a pound of fat. Weight training is especially important for older people since they lose muscle mass as they age. Proper weight training should be for 45 minutes for three non-consecutive days with 20 minutes of aerobics training on alternate days.
Another new trend in weight lifting is the SuperSlow workout. This workout uses a few select exercises with low repetitions with a super slow motion of movement (10 seconds on the concentric [raising] movement and 10 seconds on the eccentric [lowering] movement). Workouts are only 15-30 minutes in length and are only done once or twice a week. Studies differ on whether this method of lifting is better or worse than conventional lifting, but some people get great results and only have to work out once every 7 to 10 days. See www.superslow.com for more information.
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