sitting, walking, running, sprinting - turning up the intensity

sitting, walking, running, sprinting - turning up the intensity

Picture this - you get home from work, change into your casual clothes, and let out a big sigh. Feels good to not be cooped up in an office. (even better if your coop is a cubicle.) Dinner is on the horizon, but you have 20-30 minutes of "you" time before you really have anything to do. And you have options...

1.) Sitting. You plop down on the couch and unwind with SportsCenter, the local news, or maybe even the Kardashians. (God help us.) Finding the remote, kicking up your feet, and occasionally flicking your thumb help you burn through about 5 calories. While your mind may get a chance to zone out, you certainly didn't do your body any favors with this choice.

2.) Walking. What if you get outside instead, and go for a 20 minute walk? Your body gets to move, to feel a different position and use different muscles from what you've been doing all day. Your eyes and ears pick up on the surroundings, and your mind gets cleared in a different, better way. You get back to the house before too long, but in the meantime you've burned 100-150 calories, and your mind and body are refreshed and upbeat. 

3.) Running. Forget the walk - instead you grab your shoes (or sandals) and head out the door for a run. You run fast - 2 miles if you're starting out, 2.5 miles at a pretty good clip, 3 miles if you're really cooking - fast enough that you're spent when the run is over. You get back to the house, but it takes you another 20 minutes to stop sweating. That's ok, though, because you feel great! You burned through 250-300 calories while running, plus another 150 or so while your body cooled off. Your full of adrenaline and endorphins, so you're in a good mood - tired, but happy and proud of yourself. You'll feel the effects of your run tomorrow too; your sore legs can act as a reminder that your body is using even more calories while it rebuilds your leg muscles!

4.) Sprinting. You go outside and run 100 yard sprints, over and over again. Sprint out 100 yards; walk back to the starting line. You can do the first couple one right after the other, but after a few of them you add a few seconds of resting between them. Sprint out, hard as you possibly can. Walk back, huffing and puffing. Stand at the starting line and wait a few seconds while you get psyched up for the next one. Repeat. You lose count of how many you've done, but it's been 15 minutes and you simply can't do any more, so you stop. You go inside, and feel the same benefits as you did from running. The difference is that tomorrow you'll feel your upper body being rebuilt as well. You burned even more calories, you pushed yourself harder, and you used more muscle groups, than any of the other three options. This was a great use of 15-20 minutes.


5.) Fit-20 Workout (Cross-Fit). Choose any 20-minute workout from the Fit-20 list and knock it out. These workouts hit your entire body - you're building muscle, burning fat, and giving your heart and lungs a cardio blast, all at the same time. Efficient and wonderful.

Bottom Line

There are two points I want to take away from this post:
  1. Anything is better than nothing. It all starts with getting up and moving.
  2. Intensity matters. But intensity is a relative term, different for each of us depending on our abilities. One person may be able to run an 8-minute mile without breaking a sweat, while another guy feels like he's going to explode at a 10-minute mile pace. (Newsflash - the 10-minute guy is getting a better workout.) Regardless of where you are on the fitness spectrum, you get better results if you're willing to push yourself.

Just do it.

-Chris Butterworth