Intense workout vs 10,000 steps a day: a fitness battle

We might deceive ourselves and think that 10,000 steps per day is as beneficial as a proper gym session, but it isn’t: the latter is 3 times more effective on our overall fitness

Staying as active as you can is always the right thing to do, and that’s a fact. Whether it be extremely intense workout sessions, or the canonical and more relaxed 10,000 steps a day, keeping dynamic is better than idleness at all times. That being said, something people might want to know in greater detail is: how demanding should physical activity be to really have a positive impact on general wellbeing and to really boost our physical fitness?

A study conducted at the Boston University School of Medicine on 2,070 people by cardiologist and professor Matthew Nayor and his team (and published on the European Heart Journal) was aimed at answering these precise kinds of question. What dynamics are there between a person’s fitness level and the intensity of the exercise they usually practice?

Namely, the study delved into the link between an actual good level of fitness and physical activity: the main and most straightforward result is that higher-than-average activity rates – such as traditional gym workout sessions – correspond both to a better capacity to face a peak performance (not surprisingly), but also to an improvement of the ability to face low exertion levels. Intense workout is more effective in doing so than more moderate activities, such as walking.

Challenging exercise sessions were associated with good fitness levels even in cases where the sedentary time of the subject was considerable. This is to say that many effects inactivity has on our organism might be easily defeated by proper workout, regardless of how significant this sedentary time is. That seems to happen also in the long term: participants to the study who used to practice intense exercise even a long time before (up to eight years) – and who then reduced this intensity – were still able to hold a good fitness level (thanks to a “memory effect” of the body).

With smart watches and other gadgets keeping track of how long we walk, and alerting us as soon as we reach 10,000 steps a day, we’re often led to believe that’s a huge achievement, and that – maybe – it’s just as valuable as exercising properly. Interestingly, the study by Dr. Nayor and his team confirms that a high step count is linked to a good fitness level (especially if compared with more inactive lifestyles) and that a dedicated and constant walking session improves overall wellbeing.

A proper gym session gives the best fitness outcomes

However beneficial and healthy walking is, its effect can’t hold a candle to a proper gym session, especially if your goal is to achieve an enviable fitness condition: actual exercise happens to be 3 times more beneficial than walking at a low cadence—low cadence has been defined as 60-99 steps/minute, moderate as 100-129 steps/minute and intense as more than 130 steps/minute.

As far as active time is concerned, the suggested ranges are 150-300 minutes/week of moderate intensity or 75-150 minutes/week of vigorous intensity exercise; this last upper limit is just a suggestion, as a higher-than-150 amount of active minutes was not associated with negative outcomes. Namely – when talking about the relevance of “active time” – it basically implies that short and intense workout sessions are to be preferred to and are more beneficial than long and moderate ones.

Often, the least tiring option is to repeat the same movement – such as walking or running – but our body perceives this and adapts to it, so we will start consuming less and less energy. Trying shorter, high-intensity circuits instead allows you to get a continuous stimulation, involving more muscle groups and, above all, stimulating the neuro-muscular system. This allows greater energy consumption, with an increase in both vascular and trophic levels.

So – if your will is to achieve the ultimate health goal and go for an actual exercise programmepersonal trainers and Technogym products are the best option for you. Personal trainers can help guide you through the first approach with your workout sessions (if you’re new to it), while Technogym offers a wide variety of services which help users make the most of its products. Technogym Live – a built-in console – includes a comprehensive selection of workout programmes based on all kinds of needs, while Technogym App’s vast choice of on-demand video workouts and personalized plan really adapts to you, your progresses and lifestyle, and it can be accessed anywhere and anytime.

Milder forms of exercise are obviously recommended for people with pre-existing medical conditions or older people, who might not be able to endure more vigorous training sessions. For all others, especially younger individuals and those seeking to fight ageing, intense workout and regular visits to the gym are the best medicine.

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