Vigor Improvement Practices – (VIPs) – Interval Training

Dr. Shawn Talbott (Ph.D., CNS, LDN, FACSM, FACN, FAIS) has gone from triathlon struggler to gut-brain guru! With a Ph.D. in Nutritional Biochemistry, he's on a mission to boost everyday human performance through the power of natural solutions and the gut-brain axis.

Want to feel better than you’ve ever felt?

Here’s another excerpt from my 10th book, The Secret of Vigor – How to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance and Reclaim Your Natural Energy

Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions every year are:
*Lose Weight
*Get in Shape
*Reduce Stress
*Get Healthier
*Win the Lottery

The Secret of Vigor can help you with 4 out of 5 of the most popular resolution goals, so I’ll be posting excerpts from the book for the next several weeks – so please stay tuned for each installment.

If you simply can’t wait, then you can certainly get a copy at or at your favorite library or bookstore.

Vigor Improvement Practices – (VIPs) – Interval Training
Because I know how difficult it can be to push back against the stresses you face in the twenty-first century, I have developed a set of exercise recommendations that are designed to deliver the most benefits within the shortest time commitment possible. The most effective way to use exercise to restore biochemical balance and improve your vigor is with a three-times-weekly regimen of interval training (either running or walking). I think everyone would agree that walking is a pretty simple exercise that you can easily incorporate into your daily schedule. It doesn’t require any fancy or expensive equipment, and you can do it virtually anywhere. To get the most from your walking regimen, you’ll want to make sure you have a pair of comfortable and supportive shoes as well as approval from your personal health-care provider that it is okay for you to engage in moderate to vigorous exercise.

Walk outside and enjoy the sights and sounds of your own neighborhood or a local park when the weather is good. Or when it is rainy or snowy, walk around the mall. Many shopping malls have organized walking groups that meet before the stores open and the mall becomes crowded with shoppers. When you get comfortable with walking on a regular basis, you can change the route and vary the intensity (walking faster or slower and adding hills or flats). Walking can also be part of developing your “mental” fitness as much as it serves as your “physical” exercise, because it can allow you some time to “get away” and to de-stress while your mind (and your body) wanders.

The Interval Training Plan described below has been used successfully by many of my clients and readers:

Interval Training Plan
After a five-minute warm-up, the exercise alternates between high- and low-intensity levels as follows:

  • one minute high intensity/one minute low intensity*
  • two minutes high intensity/two minutes low intensity
  • three minutes high intensity/three minutes low intensity
  • two minutes high intensity/two minutes low intensity
  • one minute high intensity/one minute low intensity

* Note that the intensity levels will be relative to your individual fitness level. A general guideline is that “high” intensity is not an “all-out effort” but rather a level that gets you breathing hard enough that you have difficulty carrying on a conversation with your exercise buddy. The “low” intensity intervals are easy enough to allow full recovery before your next hard interval—and also easy enough for you to talk without getting out of breath.

These eighteen minutes of interval training are followed by five minutes of easy cool-down exercise for a total duration of just under thirty minutes (twenty-eight minutes, to be exact). Compared to exercising at a steady/moderate “fat-burning” pace for this same twenty-eight minutes, the interval approach will burn more than double the number of calories (401 versus 189) and will result in superior biochemical balance via direct control of cortisol, testosterone, glucose, and other aspects of your biochemistry.

Exercise is a vital part of achieving and maintaining healthy biochemical balance and proper tissue repair. Whether we talk about joints, bones, muscles, tendons, or any other tissue, the right amount of the right type of exercise can help stimulate production of new collagen, removal of damaged tissue, and delivery of vital oxygen and nutrients. The body is designed to move. One famous philosopher commented that the human body is the only machine that breaks down from underuse rather than from overuse. (However, your body can break down from overuse as well, as evidenced by the numerous overtrained athletes that I have worked with over the years.)

In many ways, the motion of exercise or any type of physical activity can be thought of as lotion for your joints and other tissues. The simple act of moving your body helps hydrate joints and stimulate tissue repair throughout the body, while the act of sitting around like a couch potato sends a constant “breakdown” signal (also called “atrophy”) to your joint cartilage, bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

About the Author

Exercise physiologist (MS, UMass Amherst) and Nutritional Biochemist (PhD, Rutgers) who studies how lifestyle influences our biochemistry, psychology and behavior - which kind of makes me a "Psycho-Nutritionist"?!?!

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