EAU CLAIRE, Wis. — When it comes to exercise, what's best for your heart: slow and steady, or fast and furious?
How about a combination of both? Interval training — alternating short bouts of higher-intensity effort with longer bouts of less-intense activity — has big benefits for your heart.
"Interval training makes your heart alternate between working hard and recovering," says Melinda Hahm, a clinical exercise physiologist in Cardiology at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire. "Doing this work-and-recovery pattern multiple times in a single workout has many benefits."
"If you have a health condition, consult your health care team before increasing or changing your exercise routine," Hahm says. "If you are starting an exercise program, wait at least two weeks before adding interval training to your routine."
To try it yourself, follow this 20- to 40-minute plan.
If you’re already a runner, alternate jogging and sprinting in steps 2 to 4.
"For general fitness, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise most days of the week," Hahm says. "To add interval training to your exercise routine, substitute two to three days of interval training for your regular workout."
For optimal heart health, also add two to three days of strength training a week. If you do the correct amount of exercise, you should feel good when you finish your workout.
Mayo Clinic Health System has a physical presence in 44 communities and consists of 53 clinics, 16 hospitals and other facilities that serve the health care needs of people in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The community-based providers, paired with the resources and expertise of Mayo Clinic, enable patients in the region to receive the highest-quality physical and virtual health care close to home.