Every body is different, so to come up with fitness guidelines that work for everyone is tough. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the minimum recommended amount of exercise for a healthy adult is 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise most days of the week and this 30 minute guideline is the one that fitness experts use as a baseline to ensure exercisers are working hard enough to see results, especially beginners who are new to exercise. But what does that actually mean, and how do you know if you are doing enough?
The 30 minute rule refers to cardiovascular exercise (running, walking, biking, etc.) as the guidelines for strength training are working your major muscle groups 2-3 times a week, on nonconsecutive days. Your strength training, however, can work into your 30 minute rule as long your intensity is high enough. (More on that later.)
The 30 minute rule sounds pretty cut and dry, but you actually have a lot of leeway. Most days of the week means 4-6, as everyone needs at least one rest day per week, but you can play with the 30 minute recommendation. Those 30 minutes can be done all in one shot, or you can break it up through out the day. Two 15 minute sessions, or three 10 minute sessions are shown to be just as effective, but it is not recommended to do anything shorter than 10 minutes for the full benefits.
Those minutes don’t mean much, however, if you aren’t making them count, which brings us to your intensity level. Intensity is a little more subjective, but the most important component to seeing results.
As a runner, I love to run in groups. The time passes by faster as we all share stories, get to know each other better, and typically laugh the miles away. I’ve grown accustom to talking while I run. In fact, I often fear I talk too much when I run. However, new studies have been conducted regarding talking while exercising and the findings may have me upping my chatter for the sake of my fitness.
Recently, exercise scientists from the University of New Hampshire confirmed the effectiveness of the “talk test”- a relatively simple and low-tech method used to measure exercise intensity.
The rather simple test required the participants to recite the Pledge of Allegiance while exercising at different intensity levels. Their heart rates and maximal oxygen consumption, or V02 max, were measured during the test. Those who spoke comfortably were at their lower end of exercise intensity. Those who could no longer speak comfortably were at the upper end of the intensity guidelines.
Research has shown that listening to music while you exercise improves performance. As for me, I didn’t need research, I know from firsthand experience. I don’t know what I’d do without music while on the treadmill.
Music acts as a motivator, but it also distracts you from negative thoughts associated with fatigue or any insecurities or inadequacies that may creep up into your mind.
While I can be motivated by nearly any tempo if the music is right, research shows that fast paced music, ideally music with a BPM (Beats Per Minute) of between 120 and 140, is ideal for a cardio workout.
Nothing drives me more insane as a personal trainer than seeing someone at the gym walk on the treadmill for over an hour. There they are when I walk in the door to warm up, and there they remain after my entire workout is over.
No wait, I take that back. Probably as equally frustrating is seeing people on the treadmill with the incline jacked up to 15 while hanging onto the machine for dear life.
Either way, just because the display on the treadmill says that you burned a certain amount of calories doesn’t mean you actually did. If you are hanging on like Tom Cruise to a cliff in Mission Impossible 2, you aren’t working as hard as the treadmill thinks you are, so cut the calories burned total in half.
The treadmill seems simple enough. Hop on and walk- or run, if you’re feeling saucy. However, just putting in the time on the treadmill isn’t going to cut it. You have to make it count. Why waste your time and effort when you can get more results in a fraction of both?
There are a lot of variables you can use to get the most out of your treadmill workout, so pick a favorite, or a combination, of the below and cut down on the amount of time you are on the treadmill while burning more calories than ever before.