Get Smarter In 20 Seconds
You know that high-intensity interval training—short bursts of really intense activity—is the latest fitness rage for the body, but did you know it can supercharge your brain as well?
Canadian researchers found high-intensity interval training (HIIT) not only helped people slim down, but it pumped up their cognitive performance, too. Researchers recruited participants who were overweight or obese, and, after performing a battery of physical and mental tests, put them on a training regimen of two weekly sessions of HIIT and strength training, plus one session of moderate cardio for four months. Participants lost weight, gained fitness and strength, and showed improvement in short-term memory, longer attention spans, and clearer focus.
"We used HIIT because it has been more beneficial than continuous cardio," says lead researcher, Anil Nigam, MD, associate professor of medicine at the University of Montreal Dr. Nigam. "There is better adherence, participants had more fun, were able to go almost twice as long without feeling tired, and felt less short of breath than with continuous aerobic activity," he says.
But while it has its devotees, HIIT can be intimidating, especially if you've never done it. But Shawna Kaminski, fitness expert and founder of Female Fat Loss Over 40, has some simple advice to help first timers HIIT it.
20 seconds (and 15 minutes) is all it takes.
The key principle of HIIT is 20 seconds high intensity, followed by 10 seconds of recovery. "What you do doesn't matter," says Kaminski. "You can jump rope, sprint upstairs, do mountain climbers or squat-jumps." After four minutes, take a full minute to rest. "If you do three sets like that, you have done an awesome work out," Kaminski says. (Need help? This DVD incorporates HIIT training into a quick workout.)
Go at your own pace.
You don't have to be a super-athlete to do HIIT. The most important thing is that you go as hard as you can. "For some people, a power walk is their sprint," says Kaminski. "The key is to give it all you've got, then walk in place for 10 seconds to recover."
Ditch the expensive gym and equipment.
"All you need is your body weight, and the equivalent space of a hotel bathroom," says Kaminski. "There are free apps that you can use for timing your intervals. If you want to get fancy, you can buy a jump rope."
Video: GET SMARTER IN 3 MINUTES
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