Me, Meg and Mariah
But not all of the Jillian moves are so easily disposable. Walking pushups, boxing with handweights, and other upper body moves she employs are sure keepers. So, I incorporate them into a new workout plan that I devised and will post later this weekend since I forgot to email it to myself before I left for the office. *slaps self*
Between eliminating plyometrics/intertal training from my daily workout regimen and going back to old-fashioned cardio and reading Merry's blog post recently asking the question How Much Cardio Do You Do?, I got to thinking about how much exercise we really need to get and stay healthy.
Currently, I workout 90 minutes every morning, 6 days a week: 30 minutes strength training followed by 60 minutes of cardio on the bike. Is this too much, not enough, or just right?
The answer depends, I guess, on the type of cardio and a person's age and weight range. The guvment chimes in that adults need at least 150 minutes of exercise every week to maintain good health. Kids/young adults need more, about an hour every day. That is just for maintenance.
As we get older, the amount of minimum exercise goes up. The esteemed Dr. Gupta has cited authority that at least an hour every day is necessary to maintain weight and fend off weight gain. The same amount is recommended for overweight women who are trying to lose weight.
The hour-a-day recommendation mirrors that cited by The Institute of Medicine (click on the internal link on that page to read the full report for free). Not just 60 minutes of any activity, but 60 minutes of vigorous exercise that is in addition to what you normally do day-to-day. So, housecleaning, wrangling kids, and laundry don't count. This is just to maintain healthy weight. For the obese or overweight, while an hour a day is great, you still need to include calorie restrictions in the diet. On the other hand, if you restrict calories, but only walk or exercise 15-30 minutes a day, it still might not be enough for long-term weight gain.
Applying this to my own experience, in the beginning I lost some weight biking only 20 minutes for 3 days a week. But then the weight loss would stop after 20 or so pounds. I increased biking to half hour then 40 minutes 5 days a week. Again, I lost some weight but quickly hit a wall again, even when restricting calories. Long-term, effective weight loss did not happen for me until I upped the cardio to an hour a day. I'm finally at my goalish weight, but does that mean I can scale back? Given my age and weight stats over the last 4 months, probably not. I'm maintaining at an hour a day, with healthy eating.
As for plyometric or interval training, this has become somewhat of a holy grail for those looking to reduce the amount of time devoted to exercising, the theory being that if you work harder for shorter periods of time, you'll achieve the same result. "Get the benefits of 60 minutes of exercise in only 20 minutes!" Really? The effectiveness of interval training remains the subject of much debate, and I'm not convinced that it works over time, especially given that higher-endurance workouts can increase the risk of injury, especially for those of us nearing, at or past middle age.
I tried intervals, loved it, but noticed that I really didn't lose much weight, if any, on an interval/plyometric program. While I sweated my ass off, there were no real results to report on the scale that were significantly different from what I achieved doing traditional cardio for an hour. On the other hand, my physical endurance increased, my muscles definitely strengthened and I lost inches. No small benefit there. But on the other other hand, the pain and injuries around the knees proved too much for me to continue. So in other words, this type of exercise depends on the person and his or her ability to maintain proper form. If it works for you, it works for you.
Developing muscle strength is nonetheless important, so rather than jump around like a kindergarten spaz, upping low-impact strength training seems to be a viable option. Thus the additional half hour of weight training each day. My new fitness goal is to lift my own body weight via chin up or pull up.
Really, everybody should be able to do this in the event of some Poseiden Adventure-type disaster so that we can pull ourselves up and out of a capsized ship or some shit.