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Interval Training: The Power of Peaks and Valleys


Are you somewhat frustrated with your exercise routine?

Have you tried Interval training?

When I first moved from flat Florida to the hilly Ozarks of Arkansas, my first exercise goal was to tackle the hill out of our homestead at Sunny Dawn Acres. We had moved in October, and the cool morning air proved to be too much of a shock to my system, and I had to move my exercise indoors for that first winter. So, I climbed stairs and made a “track” around the staircase and then up and down the stairs and back around them etc. This was my preparation for the hill (that my health retreat guests often call the widow-maker). When spring and warmer temperatures arrived, I finally was able to tackle the hill and win!

With all the hills in Arkansas, we can naturally get a degree of interval training with the peaks and valleys. But we can also create peaks and valleys in our exercise routines with interval training.

How can Interval Training revive your exercise routine?

Interval training alternates between bursts of intense activity and periods of rest or lower-intensity recovery; interval training pushes your body and then allows it to recuperate before pushing it again. Why is this a more exciting way to exercise? When I am in the “push mode,” I measure how far I can go by the trees along my path. When I reach a specific tree, then I set a new goal to achieve by going a little further to the next tree. This keeps the exercise interesting and keeps me engaged.

Let’s consider some other advantages to interval training:

Efficiency Amplified: Interval training can achieve significant fitness gains in shorter durations than continuous exercise. That’s a real plus in our overly busy world. The high-intensity intervals elevate your heart rate, torching calories and improving cardiovascular health in a fraction of the time.

Metabolic Overdrive: Intense bursts of activity during interval training can trigger the afterburn effect, scientifically known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). This means your body continues to burn calories at an accelerated rate even after you've finished your workout, contributing to increased loss of fat and improved metabolism for up to 48 hours.

Muscle Preservation: Unlike long bouts of continuous exercise, which may lead to muscle breakdown, interval training helps preserve lean muscle mass. The short bursts of high-intensity effort signal to your body to hold onto muscle, making it an ideal choice for both fat loss and muscle retention.

Variety Keeps It Fresh: Interval training offers endless possibilities for variation. You can customize your intervals based on your fitness level, goals, and preferences, keeping your workouts engaging and challenging.

Time-Saving Solution: In today's fast-paced world, time is often a limiting factor. Interval training offers a potent solution for busy individuals looking to squeeze maximum results into minimal time.

Versatility: Interval training can be performed by almost everyone; you just have to know how to adapt it to your particular situation. If you have knee problems or osteoporosis and are not able to run, you can cycle or even swim. If you have heart disease, you can work at a controlled intensity. For a healthy young person, a sprint could involve running at high speeds, while for mature elders, slow walking with bursts of a little faster walking might be the ticket. Interval training can be done inside on an elliptical, for example, or outside, according to your preferences and goals.

Why not give your movement efforts a burst of new life with interval training?

Next week, we will consider how interval training helps with chronic inflammation.

Until then,

Blue Skies,




JAMA. Published online May 22, 2019. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.4607


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