Hi! Welcome to Fit, Food, and Fun Fridays! Please read this before trying Tabata workouts.
Tabata workouts might sound tempting if you like the idea of getting fit in four minutes. Find out what’s behind the amazing claims surrounding these exercises and whether they’ll work for you.
Tabata is the brainchild of Dr. Izumi Tabata, who trained Japan’s speed skating team back in the 1990’s. Even those trained athletes had a hard time keeping up, but they saw impressive results in just a few short weeks. Celebrities, like Kyra Sedgewick, swear by this program.
These workouts are a variation of the interval training that athletes have used for years. You alternate between short bursts of intense activity and gentler recovery periods. With Tabata, you train at full strength for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, and repeat the cycle 8 times.
Benefits of Tabata Workouts
1. Save time.
Many people are drawn to Tabata because you can get fit in less time. Think of everything you can accomplish with the extra hours that you free up. You can spend more time with your family or catch up on home repairs.
2. Increase your anaerobic capacity.
Ordinary activities, such as jogging and swimming, will increase your aerobic capacity. Only intense exertion seems to affect anaerobic fitness. Tabata increases your anaerobic capacity because you are strengthening your muscles by forcing them to work very hard for a brief amount of time.
3. Avoid overuse injuries.
Daily squash games or long distance running often put too much stress on certain body parts and muscle groups. Shorter workouts may protect your tendons, shins, and muscles.
4. Burn fat.
Studies show that Tabata stimulates your metabolism, and you continue burning more calories for about the next 12 hours. That quickly adds up.
5. Lower your risk of diabetes.
There’s evidence that Tabata may help balance your blood sugar. Exercise and a healthy diet are both important if you are at risk for diabetes.
How to Use Tabata and Tabata-Style Workouts
1. Know your objectives.
Tabata isn’t easy, so ask yourself if it’s an appropriate type of exercise for you. You may want to stick with yoga or other workouts that you enjoy more.
2. Talk with your doctor.
Your physician can advise you about your individual circumstances and whether Tabata would be a good idea for you. It’s especially important to get a medical consultation if you have certain medical conditions or have been sedentary for a while.
3. Work with a trainer.
A qualified trainer can get you off to a good start. If you’re on a budget, sign up for a group class.
4. Pick up a timer.
Precise timing is essential. It can be difficult to estimate how many seconds go by without looking at a clock.
5. Start with familiar movements.
Almost any activity can be incorporated into Tabata. Begin with your personal favorites or hop on the treadmill or stationery bicycle. Over time you can add in different kinds of exercises like sprints and jumping rope.
6. Warm up and cool down.
Like any exercise routine, it’s a good idea to give your body adequate preparation and a chance to settle down. Begin and end your session with slower and smaller movements. Save stretching for last when your muscles are warm.
7. Keep a journal.
A written log will help highlight your progress. Look back over the weeks to see how far you’ve come.
8. Proceed gradually.
Consider the option of borrowing some Tabata concepts without going the whole distance. Try taking longer rest periods or doing less than 8 cycles.
9. Be prepared for discomfort.
Even seasoned athletes acknowledge that Tabata is challenging. Temporary shortness of breath and other symptoms are natural. You may decide it’s worth the effort or you may want to take a walk instead.
Tabata takes a little longer than the four minutes everyone thinks. However, it still shaves hours off the usual gym time and delivers superior results. You can even adapt the principles to suit your individual conditions and goals so you’ll stay safe while shaping up.
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I really wanted to talk about this topic today because the overweight and obesity epidemic is at an all-time high! We are a fat society and it’s killing us prematurely. Not only do I truly believe that you have the power to lose weight to improve your health, but the science also agrees! You can adopt healthy lifestyle practices that improve your health and enrich your life, which can in turn improve the lives of those close to you. You have the power to break the cycle of obesity so that you can leave a legacy of health to your loved ones.
I use lifestyle medicine as the first line of treatment, before medications, to treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Lifestyle-related chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and some cancers, just to name a few. Lifestyle practices, such as eating a whole-food plant-based diet and regular physical activity, can help you lose weight, and maybe reverse some of your chronic diseases. In certain cases, these approaches may even outperform pharmaceutical therapy. But I always tell my patients that conventional medications may be appropriate at this time to prevent catastrophic illness, but over time, you can work to make the necessary lifestyle changes to possibly reduce and/or eliminate medications. Please remember to always consult your physician for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any decisions whatsoever.
Since weight management is very important in combatting chronic diseases, I recommend that you be mindful of your weight and its fluctuations, and that you monitor your weight AT LEAST on a weekly basis. I recommend a scale that includes a body composition monitor (*this scale cannot be used with a pacemaker or other implanted devices).
Physical activity (or exercise) can improve your health and reduce the risk of developing several chronic diseases like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, just to name a few. Physical activity can improve your mood, boost your immune system, and even help you maintain a healthy weight.
I often recommend yoga and resistance training for physical activity, but as you are aware, there are plenty of forms of “movement” that you can do! But for the basics, especially if you’re just getting started, yoga and resistance training are where I would start.
Yoga can be a great way to improve your strength and flexibility, manage your stress, improve your heart health, and lose weight! I recommend using a grounded yoga mat to connect yourself with the earth and reduce inflammation.
Resistance training is the mainstay for overall health. It not only has beneficial effects on reducing body fat, it also increases muscle size and strength. Check out some basic dumbbells/free weights that I recommend to everyone.
Another alternative for dumbbells/free weights are resistance bands. They are great for physical therapy, yoga, strength training, and excellent for traveling.
Remember, living a healthy lifestyle including eating a whole foods plant-based diet, regular physical activity, and reducing stress are the best ways to maintain a healthy weight. Let me know what you think in the comment section below.
PS. I am always asked what tools and resources I recommend to help you reach YOUR health goals. Here is the ever-growing, always updated list for you.
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