Why It's Okay to Work Out at a Lower Intensity
Fitness experts sing the praises for high-intensity interval training (HIIT) for good reason: It helps you blast tons of calories in a short amount of time and boosts your burn even after you stop exercising. (And those are just two of the 8 Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training.)
But as it turns out, you might not have to work out at a super high intensity to lose weight. When Canadian researchers split a group of dieting, overweight subjects into groups and had them perform different styles of workouts (either high intensity for a short amount of time or low intensity for a longer session), both groups burned similar amounts of calories from their workouts and lost about the same amount of abdominal fat, which was more than the control group (which didn't exercise at all) lost. (Lose Fat Fast with this HIIT Bodyweight Workout.)
Obviously, these results may be skewed towards a specific group-the scientists didn't test their findings with people in a normal weight group, or with regular gym-goers.
And, it's worth noting that the high-intensity exercisers did see more improvements in their blood glucose levels than those who did lower-intensity workouts. Since higher blood glucose levels are linked to diabetes (also common in people who are obese), HIIT could still be a better option if you're looking to get healthier, fast. (FYII: low blood glucose can make you seriously hangry.)
Either way, this study is a great reminder that not every workout needs to push you to your max. And if you do want to up the intensity of your current regimen, you don't have to go from walking to sprinting in one day. Even increasing the incline on your treadmill or walking at a more brisk pace can significantly up the intensity, say the study authors. The main point: make it to the gym, no matter how hard you plan on working!