To boost calorie burn without increasing the time spent in the gym, try interval training -- this intense workout burns more calories than steady-state cardio, according to MayoClinic.com. The treadmill lends itself particularly well to this exercise style, as it's easy to increase and decrease speed and incline. Mixing up your routine with intervals also helps to alleviate boredom, as the constant change of pace will keep you on your toes. For top calorie-burning benefits, try to fit aerobic exercise into your schedule most days of the week; however, space high-intensity interval sessions at least a few days apart to avoid overuse injury.
Interval training is a simple concept: Alternate stretches of comfortably paced cardio with short bursts of activity at a higher intensity. On the treadmill, this could mean walking at 3 to 4 mph for three minutes, jogging for 30 to 60 seconds, then repeating the cycle until your workout is complete. You may also opt to increase the incline rather than the speed during your harder intervals. Interval training allows you to reach more difficult speeds or slopes than usual, as it's easier to sustain the intense activity for brief periods. According to MayoClinic.com, this increased intensity causes you to burn more calories with intervals than with traditional cardio.
In a study presented at the The Integrative Biology of Exercise VI meeting in October 2012, researchers reported that high-intensity intervals paired with long recovery periods led to increased all-day calorie burning. They observed volunteers on stationary bikes who combined 30-second bursts at maximum effort with four-minute intervals of casual pedaling. Subjects burned 200 extra calories throughout the day, despite a total workout time of just 25 minutes. You can replicate these results on the treadmill by sprinting for 30 seconds, and then walking for four minutes. This technique is taxing, as you need to push your body as hard as possible. But if you don't mind the pain, you can slash your workout time without sacrificing calorie burning.
If you tend to get bored easily during workouts, "Runner's World" recommends using random intervals to mix things up even further. Your treadmill may already have a random hill or speed setting built in, which allows you to choose an average intensity level to suit your preferences. If not, create your own workout by changing the settings every two or three minutes, varying between moderate and vigorous intensities and inclines.
If you're new to exercise or have any medical issues, see your doctor before attempting a new treadmill program. Start out with speeds and inclines that match your fitness level, and slowly increase intensity or interval duration over the weeks. Include a five-minute warm-up of light activity before each workout. The American Council on Exercise recommends limiting high-intensity training to one or two workouts per week, and also advises taking a break after about six weeks of this extreme method.
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