It is a well-known fact that exercise is a good thing, but many may not be aware of exactly how an intense workout regimen can affect your body. High intensity workouts comprise physically demanding activities that use multiple muscle groups and are performed at close to the maximum heart rate. Here are some positive impacts from an intense workout program, along with a few cautions.
Improve Heart Health
Working out at a high intensity provides great benefits for your heart. An intense workout regimen stimulates different responses from your heart and blood vessels than more moderate activities. Vigorous cardio activity gets your heart pumping blood faster, which leads to a stronger heart and more elastic blood vessels. Intense workouts also stimulate growth of new blood vessels, which helps to lower blood pressure. Lower cholesterol is another heart-healthy benefit of an intense workout regimen. Regularly exercising the heart leads to improved oxygen flow throughout the bloodstream, which translates to more energy and a stronger immune system.
Exercising intensely does not replace other heart-healthy practices, such as maintaining a nutritional diet. The positive cardiovascular effects linked to intense workouts are similar to those associated with today’s many popular superfoods, and therefore the two can complement each other. For example, aronia berry health benefits include helping to fight heart disease, balance blood pressure levels, enhance blood circulation and make blood vessels more robust, all positives also associated with intense workouts.
Maintain Healthy Weight
An intense workout increases calorie burn, boosts metabolism and can aid with maintaining a healthy weight. A higher intensity workout demands more muscle movement, and requires more oxygen, which burns more calories. Depending on the level of intensity and duration, oxygen demand remains high for up to 48 hours after an exercise session, which means the body continues to burn calories long after a vigorous workout has ended. The increased calorie burn and improved metabolism resulting from intense workouts leads to quicker weight loss compared with moderate exercise activity.
High intensity exercise can foster an improved mood. Exercising releases chemicals called endorphins to reduce the fatigue and pain experienced during physical exercise. Endorphins interact with the brain and trigger a feel-good sensation within your body. This sensation may be short-lived, but there is evidence that vigorous exercise may also have a longer-term role in helping to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Major depressive disorders are regularly linked with depleted levels of two common neurotransmitters, glutamate and GABA. Research shows that intense exercise increases levels of these two neurotransmitters.
One undeniable advantage of an intense training program is that it tends to be quick and saves time. A vigorous workout can register the same benefit for your body as a moderate activity but in half the time. In other words, a high intensity 20-minute workout can be just as beneficial as a lower intensity 40-minute session.
Frequency of Workouts
Before discussing some of the things to watch out for when engaged in high intensity training, let us first establish exactly how often an exercise regimen should include an intense workout. According to the CDC adults should do about 75 minutes of vigorous exercise or at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week. Some combination of the two is also an option and may even be the best choice.
Too Much Can Be a Bad Thing
There is such a thing as too much of a good thing when it comes to intense exercise. Too much high intensity exercise can have both negative physical and mental consequences. Some potential negatives of excessive, intense exercise include soreness, burnout or injury from overuse. Your body requires more time to recover from a vigorous workout compared to a less intense session. Doing too much within a short period of time adds stress to the very systems that you are trying to keep healthy. Repeated intense workouts with not enough recovery time put increased demands on the cardiovascular system and may lead to heart damage, heart rhythm disorders, and enlarged arteries.
The plain truth is that you do not want to do vigorous workouts every day but balancing an intense workout regimen with intervals of moderate activity, rest, hydration, stretching and a nutritional diet can prove to be beneficial for the mind and body in so many ways.
Mikkie is a freelance writer from Chicago. She is also a mother of two who loves sharing her ideas on interior design, budgeting hacks, and DIY. When she’s not writing, she’s chasing the little ones or rock climbing at the local climbing gym.