Our regular “Research Round Up” feature will bring you the latest in practical health and wellness research that you can use to make the best choices in your life. This edition investigates what exercise intensities are healthiest, how to deal with the pandemic exercise doldrums and a friendly reminder to get your apple a day. To your health! 

Too Much of a Good Thing
High intensity interval training (HIIT) has been the darling of the fitness industry for quite a while now, with research showing that these short, hard workouts can often deliver big fitness gains with limited investments of time. Studies are now beginning to show that too much intensity may lead to declines in performance and less than optimal physical outcomes. In this study, participants who did high intensity workouts three times a week began to see drops in power output and blood sugar spikes, indicating that their metabolisms were becoming dysregulated. Reducing workout intensity reversed these results. Another recent study showed that moderate exercise was more effective at reducing blood pressure and body fat stores.

For most people varying workout intensities will get the best results, alternating easy, moderate and hard workouts. For those who enjoy HIIT training, keep a log to track how your body is responding and dial back as needed.

An Apple A Day…
Apples are an inexpensive, durable fruit that come in a wide variety and can be eaten year round. Long considered to be a healthy addition to any diet, new research shows that eating the entire apple—including the skin—can help improve several indices of health. Whole apple eaters were less likely to die from stroke, heart disease and aortic calcification.They also had lower levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of whole body inflammation. These benefits were seen from consuming one small to medium apple—100-150 grams—daily. 

Eating a whole apple on most days can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease as well as reducing inflammation. 

The Pandemic’s Impact on Physical Activity

Not surprisingly with so many exercise options shut down due to public health precautions and many people spending more time at home, levels of physical activity have plummeted during the past year. These declines have not only reduced physical measures of health, but have also increased the number of people reporting feeling anxious, frustrated, irritable and depressed on a regular basis. These mental health symptoms are natural reactions to reduced options and availability of social and recreational opportunities. As temperatures begin to warm and some restrictions are being lifted many will be returning to their regular exercise routines. Experts recommend starting gradually and not expecting to return to pre-pandemic levels of fitness right away.

If you have not been as active as usual in the past year, you are not alone. Reductions in physical activity are very common. When returning to regular exercise be patient with yourself and aware of your body’s responses to increased activity. Begin and increase intensity gradually for the safest and most comfortable return to activity.