An 18 year study was recently finished in Copenhagen, Denmark that wanted to see the relationship between exercise intensity and/or duration and mortality. They pooled together 5,106 people, both men and women, ages 21-90 to take part in the heart study. Participants were asked to rate their daily activity as slow, average, or fast and whether their activity last less than 30 minutes, 30 minutes to one hour, or more than an hour. All of the participants used cycling as their means of exercise.
During the study, 708 men and 464 women died, with 108 of the men and 38 of the women dying from cardiovascular disease. From this information the researchers were able to deduct that those who particpated in shorter more intense exercise tended to live longer than those who participated in slower longer exercise bouts. In fact, "men with fast intensity cycling survived 5.3 years longer, and men with average intensity 2.9 years longer, than the lower-intensity, longer duration cyclists." "For women the figures were 3.9 and 2.2 years respectively."
After reading this, you are now inspired to create more intense workouts but don't know where to start or don't want to get hurt. Follow these guidelines to make sure that you don't injure yourself on your journey to increasing your life expectancy!
Be aware and familiar with your own body. Make sure you are able to communicate with your trainer, friends, or yourself when something feels too intense, or out of the ordinary. The goal isn't to go until you drop dead.
Make sure you know variations and modifications to the different exercises you want to do. Being educated and having the ability to modify an exercise ensures you don't get hurt and you can go at a pace appropriate for you and where you are in your greater scope of things. Additionally, make sure you are working with a trainer who can modify just about any exercise for you, to accommodate your needs and goals. If they can't do that for you, look for a new trainer.
Keep your workouts short. Remember the more intense you train, the shorter the workout should be. By pacing yourself and resting, you can set yourself up for injuries.
Educate yourself on the major muscles of the body and what they do. This will help you maintain balance. For example, pair a push up with a row, or in easy to understand terms, a chest exercise with a back exercise. By using opposing muscle groups you will allow your muscles to recover between sets allowing you to keep up the intensity.
So go out and sweat, and remember, you don't need an hour to get a good workout in, you just need the determination to work hard and to do something that is great for your body and life in so many ways!