There is an interesting notion among many people that increased fitness and strength improvements come from doing more. While it is true that volume is a factor that needs to be considered, often the intensity of the activity has a greater influence on just how much you need to do.
During a recent health talk at our Gordon centre on heart health, there was a question from a participant about whether endurance was an important factor in heart health. The participant recalled information he had been told before about long distance runners having good heart health.
My answer to the question was (like many answers) “it depends”. You see the question really needs to be put into context. The main point for consideration are the goals of the exerciser. Let’s assume the person is wanting to undertake a trek overseas that requires hours of walking daily with a pack. In this situation building endurance through increasing the amount of time you are walking in preparation is necessary.
However many of us are exercising to maximise our health without such goals. In these situations, we can achieve the same positive health outcomes in less time by altering the intensity of our workout. In fact when it comes to heart health, we can sometimes achieve even greater benefits as we teach our heart to adapt to ever changing conditions. When you are out walking, having short bursts at a faster pace really throughout the walk increases the intensity in such a way to achieve this. This often means that you can reduce the duration of your overall walk to achieve the same outcome in less time!
The main consideration here is safety. If you have any previous health concerns that you have not discussed with a health professional, such as an exercise physiologist, it is recommended that you discuss these before making the discussed changes.