Do you always feel guilty skipping a workout? An interesting article in the New York Times suggest that maybe you shouldn’t. In fact, it might be better for your overall health and fitness to take a couple of days off each week. Can this really be true?! IS THIS REAL LIFE?!
The article cites a study conducted by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. It included older, sedentary test subjects, all women, between the ages of 60 and 74. They were each randomly assigned to one of three exercise groups. Group #1 exercised twice a week. Group #2 exercised four times a week. Group #3 exercised six times a week. And guess what. At the end of the four-month-long experiment, the ladies in the middle won the prize! Take a look:
“The women exercising four times per week were now expending far more energy, over all, than the women in either of the other two groups. They were burning about 225 additional calories each day, beyond what they expended while exercising, compared to their calorie burning at the start of the experiment.”
The idea is that four workouts a week were enough to help the women feel more energized and willing to be active outside their time at the gym. They were walking more for pleasure. They were taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Maybe they were breakdancing, too. Isn’t that a lovely idea.
The women who worked out only twice a week saw benefits, too… but the women in the six-workout-a-week group, surprisingly, had the most trouble. They were burning far fewer calories during non-exercise hours than the other two groups. They felt burned out, tired, and pressed for time, so they’d make choices out of convenience, like driving instead of walking.
I, for one, can totally relate. I go on streaks where I’ll workout 6 times a week for a couple of weeks. Then, during the third week, I can’t get off my ass. Then I feel guilty. Then I get depressed. It’s stupid really. It helps to remember that fitness is a life-long journey. We have to make healthy changes we’re able to maintain for the long-term.
So, what do you think? Is four days a week the magic number? How often do you exercise? VOTE NOW and like The Hungry Tortoise on Facebook!