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.

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

3 thoughts on “The Truth About Exercise – Another Update On My Exercise Regime”

  1. 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 😉

    1. 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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