Weave these five strategies into your weekly runs to maximise calorie burn and improve training efficiency.
When it comes to cardiovascular exercise, running is king, as it comes with many wonderful health benefits. This natural motion strengthens your heart and bones, gives you the ultimate core and leg workout, and helps you maintain a healthy weight. Best of all, it’s free. But to truly reap these benefits, reaching the right intensity is key.
The National Physical Activity Guidelines recommend aiming for at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activities (MVPA) every week. Besides giving your mental well-being a boost, keeping active will also help you fight against heart diseases, diabetes and maintain a healthy weight. Moderate-intensity physical activities include jogging and cycling at a pace that still allows you to have a conversation with your exercise buddy, while vigorous-intensity physical activities are more high-impact ones that hike your heart rate, such as running and playing competitive sports.
While it’s relatively easy to squeeze in moderate-intensity physical activity (even brisk walking counts!), chalking up sufficient vigorous-intensity physical activity remains a challenge for most of us. If your weekly runs are starting to feel easy or predictable, it’s time to step up the intensity. The payoffs: better heart health, a more efficient workout, and a leaner, toner figure you’ll be proud to flaunt.
Besides being a popular method used by athletes to build speed and endurance, interval training is an effective way to torch more calories over a shorter period of time. Instead of running at a steady pace throughout, shift into high gear and alternate between high- and low-intensity runs. For a start, burst into a sprint for 30 seconds before slowing down to jogging pace for 60 seconds as active recovery. Repeat this interval cycle 10 times or for 20 minutes. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) can also help you build strength and endurance to go further and faster in running. If you need guidance, free Quick HIIT classes organised by Health Promotion Board and led by professional trainers is a good place to start.
Running against gravity on steep slopes may seem daunting, but it’s totally worth overcoming to torch major calories and intensify the burn in your quads. Uphill running can burn 700 to 1,100 calories an hour, depending on your weight. If you run on the treadmill, crank up the incline to 5 per cent to burn approximately 100 extra calories, or more.
When you’re on the treadmill, the moving belt helps to propel you forward, with hardly any resistance. For a more effective workout, hop off and take your runs outside where you are subjected to the elements and uneven terrain. You’ll also be burning more calories running in the warm weather, as your body has to work harder to cool itself. However, take precautions against heat exhaustion by avoiding running between 10am and 3pm when UV rays are at their strongest. Also, remember to wear sunscreen and stay hydrated. For a start, use park connectors or join running groups, such as Health Promotion Board’s weekly i-Run sessions, held at various locations like Gardens by the Bay, Labrador Park and Singapore Sports Hub. These are led by professional trainers and are free of charge.
Run on sand
A study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology revealed that running on sand burns up to 1.6 times more calories, compared to running on hard surfaces like asphalt roads. If you have tried walking on the beach, with or without shoes, you would know how much more effort is required to trudge through the unpredictable surface. Challenge yourself with a run on the beach, but keep your shoes on to prevent any possible injuries from sharp objects such as broken seashells. If it’s your first time, try running on wet sand before diving into the soft and dry sand, which provides even more resistance.
Wear a weighted vest
Take your runs to the next level by combining strength training and cardio. Wearing weighted vests while running forces you to work much harder, elevating your metabolic rate and burning more calories – even after your run. Weighted vests are a safer option compared to ankle weights, which could strain your joints and knees. You can buy one from sports stores in Singapore. Some come with fixed weights, while others allow you to add or remove weight pouches for varying resistance. Keep it no heavier than 10 per cent of your body weight, to avoid overstraining your muscles.
Brought to you by Health Promotion Board.