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Shorter Sessions, Better Results

September 9, 2008

By WAYNE WESTCOTT

KEEPING FIT

Perhaps you saw the story on our Makeover Project published in the September issue of Prevention magazine. Better yet, perhaps you know one of the five women who participated in this six-week exercise program. These five women were selected by the editors of Prevention magazine for a variety of reasons. First, they had to live within driving distance of the South Shore YMCA. Second, they had to have a history of exercise participation without achieving their personal fitness goals. Third, the participants had to have different training experiences and objectives. Fourth, they had to be willing to consider our suggestions for achieving their desired fitness results.

To their credit, the Prevention editors could not have selected five better women for us to train. All of the participants were serious about attaining their goals, and all diligently attempted to do so in previous exercise experiences. But some trained too intensely, others did not exercise intensely enough; some trained too frequently, and others did not exercise often enough; some did the wrong type of activity, others performed ineffective exercises. One or two needed a little nutritional advice.

Generally speaking, these women, like most exercisers, had spent a lot of time doing aerobic activity but very little time performing strength exercise. While appropriate amounts of aerobic activity are highly beneficial, both the physiological and psychological effects of doing too much endurance exercise are less than expected, especially with respect to weight loss and muscle firmness. And although they did some popular calisthenics-type exercises, these typically offer too little resistance for attaining desirable levels of muscular conditioning.

Our recommendations for the women in this category was to cut back on their aerobic activity and add some moderate- to high- intensity strength training (machines or free weights) for a balanced exercise program. This change significantly reduced the women’s exercise duration because the circuit of strength exercises was completed in 10 to 20 minutes depending on the training program. Because we increased the intensity of the cardio workouts, the women experienced similar training benefits in much less exercise time than their previous aerobic sessions. As most of the participants had busy lifestyles, the shorter workout duration was major factor in motivating the women to get the most out of each exercise session.

If you, like our Prevention program participants, have been frustrated with your past exercise experiences and training outcomes, be encouraged. With a few appropriate alterations to your training program you may make significant progress toward your fitness goals. The key for most of us is to train a little smarter.

Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D., is senior fitness executive at the South Shore YMCA, adjunct instructor of exercise science at Quincy College and fitness advisor for Prevention Magazine.

Originally published by By WAYNE WESTCOTT.

(c) 2008 Patriot Ledger, The; Quincy, Mass.. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.