#7: Adopt 1 Hour Active Cycle Followed by 1 Hour Resting Cycle

Number 6 in my blood pressure lowering list, extolled the virtues of interval training. In it, I recommended the one-minute, do it as hard as you can type of effort, followed by a minute of recovery, followed by another minute of exercise and so on.

“A 2005 study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that after just two weeks of interval training, six of the eight college-age men and women doubled their endurance, or the amount of time they could ride a bicycle at moderate intensity before exhaustion.”

Now that’s impressive. I’ve found that when I do interval training, it also holds for me. I can roughly double my endurance in a month … whatever the task you put yourself to doing.

In this tip, I recommend a change of life style, in which we purposely start structuring our day around the go-hard, take-it-easy paradigm in one hour intervals. The concept is that you might do an hour of hard vacuuming around the house, going vigorously, and then take an hour to do some nice novel reading. Followed by hour of meal preparation – running up and down stairs to get things, and so on. Or you go out and shovel some snow for an hour (don’t over-do it), and then come in to have nice hot chocolate and read the mail.

I do a lot of computer work, and even at work, I’m starting to think in terms of hour activity intervals. One of the methodologies that I promote is Agile. Agile software development talks about rhythm. It has been shown that if you go hard for a few days (a sprint) and then slow down, it is actually more productive. Teams that work in this way, get more done. It also holds within a day. If you go hard for an hour, then take a more reflective attitude, your productivity goes up.

This reminds me of the mathematical idea of fractals. You can think of the hour of activity also as being structured in 10 minute intervals. 10 minutes in which we work harder, and 10 minutes of more relaxed effort but still working). And then you can break the 10 minutes itself down into 1 minute of going all out, and 1 minute of taking a bit of break.You can also go up, and start thinking in terms of days, one day on, one day off, and then even in terms of weeks: one-week harder, one week softer.

I think that a month interval is way to long, but an occasional week when you rest a bit more than usual isn’t the end of the world. It is a time to rest up muscles, let some natural healing occur. Since I walk to work, I’ve worried when I’m on vacation for 3 weeks if I will still be able to handle the 1.5 hours of walking to work. In an effort to keep my conditioning up, I find that vacation time is perfect for more intense interval training. Go for that vigorous sightseeing tour. Go for an hour run, and during the hour, pour it on for a minute and then take a minute off. I find that even two days a week is enough to maintain conditioning.

In my IT (Information Technology) world, after one hour on the computer, then, it is time for a walk – to talk to someone, take that bathroom break, go to the mail room, print something and go get the copy. The point is to get the body moving. It has the (positive) side benefits of stopping the pooling of blood in the legs, in getting deeper breathing going, and generally helps rev up the metabolism. If nothing else, I pull out a couple of big books and do one minute step up, step down, as fast as I can, to drive up my heart rate.

The combination of high activity and rest, apparently kicks down blood pressure, exercise increases thermal burn (and fat burn), and releases blood pressure lowering hormones.
I’ve also experimented with the stretch bands, and I find they lower stress. If I find myself getting stressed about work, to take a 2 minute break and really vigorously work the stress band, kicks up the heart rate, gets the body limbered up, and starts to help relax some of that latent tension.

See NY Times article: A Healthy Mix of Rest and Motion

At one point, when I really wanted to get blood pressure down, I did Resperate for 10 minutes (take blood pressure) and then get up and do 10 minutes of interval training, do Resperate for 10 minutes (take blood pressure again) and keep that up for an hour. In almost every case, at the end of the hour, my blood pressure would be 40/20 lower than at the start.

Remember, you don’t have to exercise for 3 hours a day– 3 intervals of 10 minute interval training will likely provide more benefit.

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