How to Get More Out of Less Exercise
In a recent article, I explained three exercise myths you should know. Today, I’ll share three secrets for getting more out of your summer activities – without having to put more time or effort into them.
In the last article, I talked about stretching before exercise… and how it generally doesn’t help prevent injury. But what about stretching after you work out?
That doesn’t do much good either, according to Australian researchers. They reviewed 10 studies on post-exercise stretching and discovered that it has almost no effect on post-exercise soreness.1
But here’s something that will help: Cherries.
Just 12 ounces of cherry juice daily was enough to help college students avoid most muscle soreness after an unaccustomed workout. Even better, their overworked muscles lost almost no strength – just 4% – with cherry juice. Without it, they temporarily lost 22% of the strength in their overworked muscles.2
Cherry juice appears to be effective even if you’re running a marathon. UK researchers gave some runners cherry juice for a few days before a marathon. These runners showed less muscle damage, and recovered their strength faster, than runners who didn’t drink the juice.3
But if you really want to get more out of your workouts, maybe you should try milk. That’s right… milk.
Volunteers in a recent study exercised for an hour 5 times a week. After each workout, they drank either two large glasses of fat-free milk or two glasses of carbohydrate replacement drink.
After 12 weeks, the milk group built almost 10 times more muscle than the carbohydrate group. And though they weren’t trying to lose weight, the milk group lost an average of 3-1/2 pounds of fat. The carbohydrate group lost almost none.4
Finally, two recent studies agree there’s another way to get more benefit out of your exercise. Exercise less.
In the first study, Canadian researchers compared 30-second bursts of high intensity cycling to longer periods of moderate cycling. The high intensity group did a series of 30-second “sprints” 3 days a week. The moderate group cycled for 40 – 60 minutes 5 days per week.
At the end of the study, the sprint group had gained as much heart benefit as the moderate group, while spending less than half the time on their workouts.5
In the second study, the researchers had the high intensity group work at a slightly lower intensity. This time, they only worked to 95% of their maximum heart rate. Three times a week, they did 10 one-minute “sprints” on a cycle – with a one-minute rest between.
They found the moderate group had to cycle at least 5 hours a week to get the same heart benefit the high-intensity group got from just 1 hour of exercise a week.6
Of course, you should talk to your doctor before you start any exercise program. But as you can see, you can get tremendous health benefits from much less exercise than the experts once thought.
So as summer rolls around – and you begin to get more active – keep these tips in mind. They can help you enjoy all your summer activities even more.
Dr Kenneth Woliner, M.D.
Best Life Herbals
1 Herbert RD and de Noronha M. Stretching to prevent or reduce muscle soreness after exercise. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007 Oct 17;(4):CD004577.
2 Connolly DAJ, et al. Efficacy of a tart cherry juice blend in preventing the symptoms of muscle damage. Br J Sports Med 2006;40:679-683.
3 Howatson G, et al. Influence of tart cherry juice on indices of recovery following marathon running. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2010 Dec;20(6):843-52.
4 Josse AJR, et al. Body Composition and Strength Changes in Women with Milk and Resistance Exercise. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. June 2010 – Volume 42 – Issue 6 – pp 1122-1130.
5 See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080604101529.htm.
6 See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100311123639.htm.