By Gabe Sanders Ph.D., NSCA-CSCS
Research has shown that individuals, most especially African Americans can significantly improve the vascular function of their cardiovascular system by consistently engaging in moderate-to-high intensity or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) exercise. This type of exercise has been shown to also improve the health of your carotid artery walls as well.
How can you engage in high-quality exercise?
Remember “something is better than nothing” but let’s try to focus on “something special is better than just something.” Having structure and a purpose for your exercise regimen can be more motivating and stimulating on a “day to day basis” and many people exercise on a more consistent basis when they are working towards a goal and have a plan.
Have a plan of action
First– set your goal and make it realistic and achievable! Whether your goal is to lose weight, reduce your blood pressure or exercise yourself off of diabetes medication, be sure to write your goal down and look at it every day.
Next-commit to three to -four days of exercise and commit to your health. Try to find a few close friends or family members to support your healthy lifestyle efforts.
Lastly-try to eliminate excuses and do not skip workouts!
My previous recommendation was to engage in a HIIT regimen consisting of four bouts of 4 minutes of exercise. This time, focus on continuous exercise with intermittent bouts of high intensity.
No matter where you are in your exercise journey, the goal is 30 minutes of continuous HIIT; always starting with a 5-minute warm-up to gradually exercise your way into your HIIT exercise.
After your 5-minute warm-up, significantly increase your intensity for 30 seconds and then decrease your intensity to a light recovery period for 30 seconds.
* NOTE: You are still exercising during the 30 seconds of light recovery, it’s just a lighter intensity to “catch your breath.” Whether you are riding a bike, running then walking, or any other type of cardio workout, gradually work your way to a slightly greater intensity; also eventually work your way up to HIIT exercise for 60 seconds and then a light recovery period for 60 seconds.
Below is an example HIIT/Continuous workout on a bike when looking at your pedal rate (RPMs).
HIIT-Continuous workout with Bike- Try this!
BEGIN with a 3-minute warm-up (Gradually increase your intensity)
- 30 seconds cycling @ 70-100 RPMs then 30 seconds cycling @ 30-40 RPMs (Repeat 4 times)
- Cycling @ 50 RPMs for 5 minutes
Repeat the HIIT/Continuous cycle two more times for a total of 30 minutes, then cool down.
FINISH with a 3-minute cool-down cycling @ 30-40 RPMs
**NOTE: Modify the RPMs as needed. You can replicate the style of workout for other exercises such as the elliptical, Nu-Step, and treadmill by altering your speed or watt output.
*For more examples of other variations/exercises look under Multimedia-VDF Exercise Tips
**Consult with a physician and/or medical healthcare provider before starting any exercise regimen
Ranadive SM, Yan H, Lane AD, et al. Aerobic Exercise Training and Arterial Changes in African Americans versus Caucasians. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2015. 48(1):90-97.
Ramos JS, Dalleck LC, Tjonne AE, et al. The Impact of High-Intensity Interval Training Versus Moderate-Intensity Continuous Training on Vascular Function: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Medicine. 2015. 45(5): 679-692.