Probably the hardest part of my job in recent years has been to convince people that moderate exercise is enough. Especially with WalkFit, most people simply do not believe that walking is enough exercise. This is because the fitness industry, in the last 5-10 years, has promoted tough workouts such as HIIT, weight lifting and CrossFit as the best (and the only) way to exercise. Go hard or go home. While there’s nothing wrong with these workouts if you enjoy them, for most women they’re simply too much and the good news is that they are totally unnecessary!
Plenty of studies have proven that moderate exercise is just as good, if not better, than high intensity but because these go against industry trends, they rarely get much attention.
For example, a study comparing two groups one doing HIIT workouts three times a week, and the other doing 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week (in other words, both groups were following the recommended guidelines for both types of exercise), found the following after just 6 weeks:
- Almost all participants were fitter and to about the the same extent, no matter which programme they followed
- Only those in the moderate-exercise group had shed much body fat, improved their blood pressure or become better able to metabolise fat
- Everyone’s blood sugar control at home was best only on the days when they exercised (meaning 3 days a week for the HIIT group and 5 for the moderate group). On the remaining days, blood sugar levels tended to rise.
The scientists concluded that while all exercise is good for you, but frequent, almost daily moderate exercise may be preferable, especially for improving blood pressure and ongoing blood sugar control.
Although I do not want to promote exercise as a weight loss tool only, it does help with weight loss and, thanks to fitness industry marketing, most people are under the impression that in order to lose weight, they have to do intense HIIT workouts. So it’s interesting to note that the results of this particularly study disagrees with the industry marketing campaigns – the people in the moderate group lost more weight! This might be, at least partly, because their blood sugars were more stable every day which reduces sugar cravings and makes it easier to eat healthy. This is how and why people who, for example, start walking daily, often find that they naturally start wanting healthier foods and they no longer crave sugar and processed foods.
So the message is, whatever the fitness industry tells you is just marketing, they try to sell you something and they know that weight loss promises sell fitness programmes. Marketing messages are not based on facts and science, they’re based on what sells, so do your own research.
If you’re a beginner, something is better than nothing and now you know that moderate exercise is just as good, if not better, as high intensity, so just start where you are. Go for a walk, start with 10 minutes if that’s all you have time/motivation for and slowly build it up. As long as you enjoy it, you can’t go wrong!
Want to get started?
If you want to get started with a great programme that not only gets you fit but also helps you develop a healthier relationship with exercise, please join my next WalkFit on 30th October (starts every 5 weeks)