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Walkers can reap benefits of interval training

PHOTO: Putting some pep in your step for short intervals has some real pluses for your health, a recent study shows.  | STEPHANIE DOWELL~SUN-TIMES NEWS MEDIA

Interval training — where you alternate between intense exercise and easier  recovery periods — is very popular right now.

One reason is because you can get a solid workout done in less time. Also, studies have shown the fitness benefits of this type of training. But the rigors of interval training discourage many.

A study out of Japan shows that interval training while walking can bring the same results, according to a story in the New York Times.  Dr. Hiroshi Nose developed walking programs to get older and more sedentary folks moving, but figured they had to do something more than just take a stroll to have real health benefits. So he tried an experiment, the NYT story says. With one group, he had them walk at a moderate pace. For the other, they stepped lively for three minutes and followed that with three minutes of easier walking and continued alternating between the two. Both groups walked the same amount of time.

He found the first group experienced few health benefits. On the other hand, the interval walkers saw improvements in their blood pressure, gained leg strength and had better aerobic fitness, according to the NYT story.

The experiment has been repeated, and the last time he discovered that not only did the interval walkers experience these health pluses, but they stuck with it. Even those who quit, according to the NYT story, didn’t stop because it was too hard, but rather due to time constraints.

So, to get the most out of your walking, kick it up a notch for short intervals. You’ll be doing your body good and making the most out of your exercise time. And, this is something you’re likely to continue doing, which is a huge added plus.