Gretchen Reynolds of the Times comes back to the new emerging wisdom in exercise - short and intense workouts beat long, patient ones. Some famous studies demonstrated the efficacy of high intensity training for athletes, but this new study looks at sedentary middle-agers:
In proof of that idea, researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, recently gathered several groups of volunteers. One consisted of sedentary but generally healthy middle-aged men and women. Another was composed of middle-aged and older patients who’d been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease.
the researchers also developed a gentler but still chronologically abbreviated form of HIIT. This modified routine involved one minute of strenuous effort, at about 90 percent of a person’s maximum heart rate (which most of us can estimate, very roughly, by subtracting our age from 220), followed by one minute of easy recovery. The effort and recovery are repeated 10 times, for a total of 20 minutes.
Despite the small time commitment of this modified HIIT program, after several weeks of practicing it, both the unfit volunteers and the cardiac patients showed significant improvements in their health and fitness.
And this may come as a surprise - they liked it!
Almost as surprising, the cardiac patients have embraced the routine. Although their ratings of perceived exertion, or sense of the discomfort of each individual interval, are high and probably accurate, averaging a 7 or higher on a 10-point scale, they report enjoying the entire sessions more than longer, continuous moderate exercise, Dr. MacDonald said.
“The hard work is short,” she points out, “so it’s tolerable.” Members of a separate, exercise control group at the rehab center, assigned to complete standard 30-minute moderate-intensity workout sessions, have been watching wistfully as the interval trainers leave the lab before them. “They want to switch groups,” she said.
Left unmentioned - 30 minutes of slow cycling on a stationary bike takes you near the pinnacle of tedium (in a modern gym a television would be available, which is not so for the lap swimmers.) However, a serious interval effort is only boring to people who think that being waterboarded would be boring. For the rest of us, pain is not dull.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I was a skeptic, but science is science.
But I do want to make a point about the nature of social explanation.
I don’t care how many factory jobs have been lost, it still doesn’t make sense to drop out of high school.
True enough. But suppose we apply the same logic to another problem, say obesity:
I don’t care how little manual work Americans engage in these days, or how available fast food has become, it still doesn’t make sense not to stay at your ideal weight through diet and exercise.
This is also true — yet few people do this (I don’t, although I’ll get on the treadmill in a few minutes).
If Krugman is truly reality-based he'll know what to do when next he gets on that treadmill. All aboard the Distress Express!
Oh, and he needs to switch to low-carbs, slow-carbs. This shouldn't be a partisan fight, but I assume Krugman will want to make it one (the vegetarians are mostly on the left and a diet based on grass-fed beef is not a sustainable model for the world.)
Well - both sides agree that sugar is out, so be sure to exclude fruit juices and sports drinks. Refined carbs generally are the treats of the devil and do give some special thought to wheat gluten. Some theorists believe that there are two types of people in the world - those who know they are sensitive to gluten, and those who have not yet realized they are sensitive to gluten.
LET ME ADD: Bryan Caplan's response to Krugman was far more interesting (and far less practical) than mine. Just a snippet:
When someone drops out of high school, overeats, or fails to exercise, you tell us that their behavior is only "human." But if a conservative or libertarian objects to paying taxes to help people who make these choices, you get angry. Question: Why are you so forgiving of people with irresponsible lifestyles, but so outraged by people who don't want to pay taxes to help people with irresponsible lifestyles?
Hmm, because these poverty-deniers are haters? Or racist? Or racist haters? I am rarely successful trying to think like a lib.