The Truth About Exercise – Another Update On My Exercise Regime

truth about exercise update
If you have been reading my blog for a while you might remember that I reviewed a BBC programme about exercise called the Truth About Exercise just over two years ago.  The idea was that a short burst of intense exercise three times a week carried health benefits out of proportion to the time devoted to it.  Being fond of an experiment I gave it a try, and promptly pulled a muscle.  In health, as in so much else, you can have too much of a good thing.  But I have persisted, and I thought it was time for an update.

A quick recap – the research indicated that short bursts of intense exercise trigger off a body response that transfers body mass from your fat reserve and into muscle.  This sounds like a good thing, and may well help prevent obesity and diabetes.  These are rather hard  results to monitor on one individual, so I was happy to settle for just not getting out of breath so quickly.  I also had a measure of fitness, which was the time I took to run a regular course around my house.

So what I found was that adding the intense exercise to my admittedly rather modest existing regime did seem to lead to an improvement in my running speed.  It was not particularly decisive.  I didn’t dare run the data through a stats programme because I am pretty sure it wouldn’t have shown up as significant, but  I did shave about 20 seconds off a half mile run.

I think had I carried on as I was doing I would have seen something a bit more significant emerging, but life intervened.  I moved house and changed jobs.  In fact I stopped having a regular job and became a self employed consultant.  All this took quite a while – I had a longish handover period from my old post.  Adjusting to a new style of life was quite a big deal, and my regular morning run was one of the things that changed.

But now I have had over a year without it I have realised how important it was to keeping my health on course so I have reinstated it.  I have had to make a few practical changes.  Rather than going for an actual run outside I know stick to my running machine.  And I now incorporate the high intensity bit at the end of the run rather than as a totally separate thing.

Hydrangea Soap Dish

The big problems with developing this habit are motivation to do it in the first place and the persistence to carry on with it once I have started.  What I have found recently is that the best way to overcome these is to use music.  I love all types of music (except for jazz and barber shop, obviously).  So what I do is pick three up tempo songs and set them up as a Spotify playlist.   Then next morning the first thing I do when I fall out of bed is load up the playlist and off I go.  As an extra bit of motivational psychology I post the playlist on Twitter after the run.  I know nobody is reading anything so dull, but it makes me feel sort of accountable to the Twitter community for keeping up the habit.

I don’t know if I am actually converting fat to muscle as a result of this.  I may try quantifying my speed again in future.  (I’ll have to do that without music, the tempo of the music is a big factor.)

But I can say that the short term benefits are worth it in themselves.  For a start it really wakes you up and gets you off to a good start to the day.  This is particularly true on those cold mornings when bed is a really comfortable place to be.  I also find it gives me more energy.  And on top of that I am rediscovering some great music from my past that I would otherwise quite likely never listen to again.  So it is all good.


photo credit: Mr.TinDC via photopin cc

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3 Responses to The Truth About Exercise – Another Update On My Exercise Regime

  1. I’ve found having a streak or measurable goal keeps me motivated to exercise. Happily, I haven’t missed a day since nov 2008

  2. Might I be so bold as to suggest a few of the uptempo songs from my newly released album on iTunes? I promise there’s no jazz nor barbershop…

    Gravity’s Rainbow, Dawn Chorus and Security High might get your stepping to the beat 😉

  3. Colin says:

    Hello David – you do music as well? Clearly no end to your talents. I am afraid I use Spotify not iTunes as a rule, but I can’t find you on either. There is a country singer called David Bradley, but he doesn’t have any of the tracks you mention.

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