YouDocs, 3-5-12: Interval training is the best workout

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Q: I never find more than 45 minutes to work out. How can I get more out of it with the limited time I have? -- Frankie J.

A: The YOU Docs can help you get the most out of your workout, even when time is short. We agree with John Wooden, the legendary coach of UCLA's basketball team, who said: "Don't let what you can't do interfere with what you can do."

What you can do is supercharge your workout by using interval training. This technique varies the intensity of the effort you put out and increases workout benefits.

Try adding it to a walking program, the most doable way to get the benefits of physical activity: a stronger heart and immune system, a younger RealAge and a happier outlook on life. The magic number is 10,000 steps a day, or about five miles: Use IT to achieve it!

Marc Gillinov, M.D. and Steven Nissen, M.D. (Dr. Mike's colleagues at the Cleveland Clinic) deliver the hows and whys of IT in their information-packed new book, "Heart 411." Here are their recommendations: Alternate periods of puff-hard-can't-talk effort with periods of recovery. If you're walking, step up the pace for four minutes, then take it down for three minutes. Repeat at least two to three times during the session.

The YOU Docs like one minute of super-effort to alternate with nine minutes of taking it slightly easier. You find the interval that works best for you; it may change as you become stronger and stronger.

The same varied rhythm goes for any activity from the backstroke ("Waiter, is that fly doing interval training in my soup?") to the stationary bike.

IT keeps every workout interesting and challenging, increases endurance and maximizes oxygen usage; all great for building muscles. You'll up heart health by lowering blood pressure and raising levels of healthy HDL cholesterol. Also, you'll lose more weight and gain a more focused brain. Just do IT!

Q: I'm worried that I'll develop macular degeneration like my mom did. What can I do to protect myself? -- Sonya M.

A: There's very good news about how smart everyday habits can help prevent age-related macular degeneration, a disease of the central retina (the macula). There is a genetic link, but it doesn't seal your fate, and our suggestions can help you protect your eyesight.

-- Stop smoking if you smoke. It doubles or triples your risk of AMD. Quitting reduces the risk.

-- Wear sunglasses that block 99 percent of UVA and UVB rays. Ultra-violet light blasts the retina and sets off changes that erode vision over time.

-- Lose weight if you need to. If your BMI (body mass index) is 30, instead of a healthier 18.5 to 24.9, you're 2.5 times more likely to get AMD.

-- Control your blood pressure. Above 120/80 your risk goes up. YOU Docs advise aiming for 115/75.

-- Up your good-news foods. Make sure you get omega-3 -- particularly DHA-found in salmon, walnuts and supplements (900 mg a day; take an algae-based supplement); nutrients called carotenoids -- beta carotene, lutein (10 mg a day), and zeaxanthin; and vitamin C, E and zinc. They're in fresh produce, nuts, fortified cereals, papaya, pumpkin, eggs, sweet potatoes and supplements. A vitamin B pill with 100 percent of the daily value of folic acid, B-6 and B-12 can cut AMD by up to 40 percent. Don't take more than that -- it ups the risk for other diseases.

-- Get moving. Dry AMD means too little oxygen is getting to the retina. Exercise improves oxygen supplies throughout the body, including in the cells of the macula.

(The YOU Docs, Mehmet Oz, host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen of Cleveland Clinic, are authors of "YOU: Losing Weight." To submit questions, go to www.RealAge.com.)

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