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by Thrive Fitness Fitness, Workouts

HIIT may be IT ~ But don’t throw Low Intensity away!

There has been a lot of hype over HIIT, and with good reason. This science-backed, super intense exercise session challenges us. And with so little time to spare, there is nothing better than efficiency that fits into your time frame. (Read more about the benefits of HIIT here)

So if HIIT is all that and more, why the need for low intensity? The answer is somewhat complicated, but fascinating.

Basically, interlacing high and low intensity make for better athletes. If you are aiming for long-term fitness or any type of athletic pursuit, high intensity in itself will not sustain your goals. Even if you are not specifically into sports or an athlete, Long endurance Low-Intensity Cardio will build a strong foundation for continued fitness.


As you read through this blog, think of how this information relates to you and how you can apply it in your fitness journey

The benefits of long duration, low-intensity cardio.

How Low intensity, Long Endurance exercise affects your nervous system


This is an important factor in the need for Low intensity, long duration exercise. We won’t be dealing with the complexities of the effects of exercise on your nervous system. Instead, let’s simplify the process so it’s easy to understand.

Low-intensity cardio that calls for longer duration contributes to your energy system in a different way than does its higher intensity counterpart. When your body becomes active and the heart starts beating faster, it causes a type of stress that is good for you. It triggers the release of all kinds of hormones and puts you in touch with your sympathetic nervous system - the state of being ready to fight or flee.  


Activating this system takes a while, but it produces a component called ATP which supplies the fuel your muscles need to rely on for energy in the long term. Short bursts of intense activity has a different effect on your sympathetic nervous system, so you need some low-intensity sessions to build a store of this component. Building endurance by improving your sympathetic nervous system this way strengthens your body’s ability to handle the intense exercise better, meaning your performance in the HIIT sessions will improve! And need we mention, a quicker recovery is a given.


How Low intensity, Long Endurance Exercise Affects your Heart Competence


All exercise is good for the heart, but Low Intensity, long duration helps get your heart in a condition where it moves a higher volume of blood per beat than it would have if you didn’t include the Low intensity. This is beneficial for your entire system in that more oxygen per beat gets recycled, adding even more endurance to your activities.

A word of Balance:


It is important to note that we are not endorsing replacing HIIT with Low intensity - but rather adding it to your fitness routine in a sustainable manner. If you add one session a week - for example one long, slow jog - you will be able to build on the benefits as described in this article. Ask any of our trainers for advice on what YOU need in your unique journey to Thrive!


In the fitness world, a common misconception is that lighter training days are not truly helpful in achieving fitness goals compared to vigorous ones. This couldn't be farther from the truth. Periodization training is used to maximize performance where one cycles between intense and light workouts. This intentionally allows the body time to rest and recover after intense training. By tapering intensity and having easier days, it prevents overuse injuries and give the body time to build back muscles even stronger.” Dani Sanusi, Instructor, Thrive Community Fitness – Oak Harbor

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