Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Exercise Boosts Brainpower

High Intensity Interval Training.

  I've always felt that exercise clears my head, and makes my mind sharper. But there seems to be some new research that actually backs those feelings up.

HIIT Strengthens Memory
  A study from University of Montreal tracked participants for four months as they followed a workout regimen that included: two 40-minute sessions of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), two 30-minute circuit weight sessions, and one moderate intensity workout per week.

  As could be expected, participants lost weight, decreased waist circumference, lowered insulin levels, and increased maximum oxygen intake. The new take-away however, showed that subjects saw a 10-25% improvement in brain functions such as speed, recall, and short-term memory.

  A more in-depth study is in the works to narrow down the effectiveness of interval training and weight training together, versus exercise in general.

  Physically speaking, HIIT (my first blog about interval training) is the most-beneficial, and most time-efficient way to exercise. But now there seems to be an added bonus to testing out HIIT!

Intervals benefit our brain!
Examples of (HIIT) interval training:
  Tabata: 20 seconds 'on', 10 seconds 'off' for eight total minutes.
  Timed intervals: Time on & time off depends on fitness level. If you're just starting out try a 1:2 ratio: 30 seconds on, 1 minute off, for example.

  If you're not doing a timed/ratio interval, there's a more precise way to gauge your exertion and recovery time based on maximum heart rate.

  When you're doing interval work, you want to work around 80% (or higher) of your maximum (this is HIGH intensity after all!).

To find maximum heart rate: 220 - age = maximum heart rate. For example, mine would be 220 - 32 = 188. In this instance, 80% of my maximum is 150 beats per minute (188 x .8). So when I am executing the 'on' portion of the interval, I want to ensure my heart rate is reaching at least 150.

  For the rest period, when your heart rate is back down around 60-65% of your maximum (for me 112-122), rest time is over. It's time to get back to work and start another interval!

To find heart rate: Find pulse on wrist or neck. I can never find it on my wrist, so that never works for me. But theoretically, you can find it there! Count the beats for six seconds, then multiply by 10 (or add a zero).

  Again, using me as an example, when I have 15 beats in six seconds my heart rate is roughly 150 beats per minute (you can check just after you've completed your interval to see if you're putting forth the right amount of effort!). And when I count 11 or 12 beats in six seconds my heart rate is between 110 and 120 beats per minute, so rest time is over!

  It may sound difficult, or too confusing, but it really isn't once you get the hang of it! Or you can make things really easy by using a heart rate monitor, but another gadget really isn't necessary.

  Try the intervals for 20 minutes. As you get stronger, and build better endurance, you can add time to your workout. Here are some more example interval training workouts if you're just starting out.

  Let me know if you see (and feel!) some results! And as always, don't forget to warm up and cool down!



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