True or False? Test Your Exercise IQ

Jodi Helmer
by Jodi Helmer
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True or False? Test Your Exercise IQ

Your sneakers have logged their fair share of miles; you have more than a few race bibs; and you swipe your gym membership more often than your debit card. You’re a workout pro, right? Let’s put your knowledge to the test.

False: The Centers for Disease Control recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity vigorous activity but it doesn’t matter if you log those minutes in one longer session or several shorter ones. In fact, personal trainer Jennifer Cohen, author of “Badass Body Goals,” believes there are benefits to getting your heart rate up more than once per day — and research supports that idea.

A study published in PLOS One found one 10-minute, high-intensity workout had the same benefits as going for a 45-minute run. Additional research found short bursts of exercise led to increased longevity.

Whether you hop on the treadmill for 30 minutes before work or squeeze in three 10-minute sessions in the morning, afternoon and evening, Cohen’s message: Just get moving.

False: Your muscles are made of slow-twitch and fast-twitch fibers: Slow-twitch fibers are used during lower-intensity endurance workouts because the cells excel at turning oxygen into fuel. Marathoners rely on slow-twitch muscle fibers to cross the finish line. Activities that require a lot of strength for shorter periods (like football) rely on fast-twitch muscle fibers, which fatigue faster but produce more power.

“Major muscles in the body are often composed of a combination of both slow- and fast-twitch muscle fibers to ensure we can sprint when necessary but can also perform for endurance as well,” Cohen explains.

To build fast-twitch muscle fiber, focus on movements that emphasize speed and power like kettlebell swings and jump squats; slower tempo, longer duration workouts, like higher reps during strength training, build slow-twitch muscle fibers.

True: You have no more excuses to skip evening workouts and binge watch Netflix instead. One small study found vigorous late-night exercise had no impact on sleep quality.

Scott R. Collier, PhD, a professor at Appalachian State University, researched the optimal times to work out and found benefits to scheduling strength training in the late afternoon or evening, including less time to fall asleep. Collier admits, “We’re not sure why [the results showed resistance training was more beneficial later in the day] but, if you think about it, you don’t see a lot of people lifting weights first thing in the morning.”

Even cardio in the evenings isn’t off limits. Additional research shows those who get the recommended 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercise each week actually report better sleep quality than their more sedentary peers. Collier adds, “Exercise is great, no matter what time it is.”

False: Your workout should include cardio and strength training.

“Cardio burns calories and fat when you’re performing it, but high-rep strength training keeps your metabolism elevated after exercise,” Cohen says. “A strength program can elevate your metabolism for up to 38 hours after the workout [so] you continue to burn calories long after strength training; once you stop cardio, the calorie burning stops as well.”

Cardio is important, too. Research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found aerobic training helped overweight adults lose more weight — and higher percentages of fat — than resistance training alone. Resistance training led to greater increases in lean body mass, which is associated with higher metabolism, which means you should be spending time on the elliptical machine and lifting weights.

True: If you’re short on time, it can be tempting to skip a warmup and cooldown to focus all of your attention on your workout, but that would be a mistake, according to Ryan Balmes, DPT, founder of ENDVR Health and spokesperson for the American Physical Therapy Association.

Balmes notes that a 5-minute warmup raises your body temperature, revs up your heart rate and increases blood flow to the muscles so your body is ready for more vigorous exercise. One study found warming up before working out led to fewer knee injuries.

After a workout, a cooldown helps your heart return to its pre-exercise rate and lowers your blood pressure. Stretching after a workout can also help reduce muscle soreness. “It eases tight or stiff muscles and helps you relax,” Balmes says.

About the Author

Jodi Helmer
Jodi Helmer

Jodi Helmer writes about health and wellness for publications like WebMD, AARP, Shape, Woman’s Day, Arthritis Today and Costco Connection among others. She often comes up with the best story ideas while hiking with her rescue dogs. You can read Jodi’s work or follow her on Twitter @helmerjodi.

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