Work/rest intervals ratchet up workouts

Mon Aug 16, 2010 9:48am EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - If your cardio routine is in the doldrums, try mixing a little tortoise in with that hare.

Experts say interval training, alternating bursts of intensity activity with less intense periods, can burn more calories, boost stamina, and stave off that burning pain that stops any workout dead in its tracks.

"Interval training burns calories quicker. If you're doing interval training for 20 minutes it can burn as many calories you would in 40 minutes," said Kerri O'Brien of Life Fitness, which designs and manufactures exercise equipment.

"It depends on level of intensity, the weight of your body, the intensity of what you're doing," she added.

And the principle holds whether you're an elite athlete, a weekend warrior or a couch potato.

"We can do different things based on your goals and fitness level," she said. "We can work with low intensities that require walking, then stop and do jumping jacks."

O'Brien said interval training increases endurance by clearing lactic acid, the byproduct of exercise.

"That burning pain is lactic acid building up," said O'Brien. "Whether you're strength training, or walking, or climbing stairs, it's lactic acid that tells your body to stop. Interval training is literally training your body to clear that lactic acid more efficiently"   Continued...

<p>A man running in the desert near Reno, Nevada, in May 2010. REUTERS/Life Fitness</p>