If you gorged yourself on candy, the Halloween kind or otherwise, here's motivation (beyond burning off the calories) to get your butt to the gym the next day: A Washington University School of Medicine study found that exercise may protect your heart long after you step off the treadmill. Sugary snacks cause blood vessels to temporarily lose their elasticity, which over time increases heart disease risk. But physical activity can help: When researchers gave subjects a candy bar and soda 17 hours after doing an hour of moderate-intensity cardio, the exercisers were able to pump 28% more blood than people who'd rested and ate the same sugar-laden snack. Here are a few quick ways to pump up your workout-and erase all evidence of last night's candy-corn binge:
1. Chill your water
Even if the weather is cool where you live, a fresh-out-of-the-fridge water bottle can rev up your workout, finds a British study (participants in hot climes got the best results). Exercisers who drank refrigerated water (39°F) worked out about 25% longer than those who consumed the same amount of warmer water-and they said their exercise sessions felt easier too.
2) On a Treadmill? Crank Up the Incline
This can rev your calorie burn by up to 60%. And when you come back down to earth, walking will feel easier. Good form is key, so follow these tips: Don't lean. Maintain an upright posture, keeping your shoulders over your hips and your hips over your ankles. Start easy. Do a 5-minute slow walk and then a 10-minute brisk pace before adding your first hill. Go 5 and 5. Alternate 5-minute hills with 5 minutes of level walking. Repeat as often as you like. Cool down for 5 minutes.
3. Log at Least 12 Minutes
Any amount of cardio will burn calories, but to really fight off pounds, you need at least 12 minutes (beyond a warm-up) of continuously moderate to high-intensity activity (where you're breathing somewhat hard) most days a week. That's the amount necessary to "create a training effect, which improves your body's ability to use oxygen and generate more fat-burning enzymes, such as lipase, so you can blast more flab during exercise and other activities all day," says Chip Harrison, exercise physiologist, director of strength and fitness at Pennsylvania State University, and coauthor of The Female Athlete.
4. Go Shorter, but Harder
Introducing short bouts of vigorous activity can speed up weight loss and cut your workout time by up to half or more. Australian researchers found that women who alternated just 8 seconds of high-intensity exercise with 12 seconds of low-intensity activity for 20 minutes, 3 times a week, slimmed down faster than steady-paced exercisers who worked out twice as long. Those who did intervals lost up to 16 pounds, shrunk their bellies by 12% and their thighs by 15%, and gained, on average, 1 1/2 pounds of metabolism-revving muscle in 4 months--without dieting!
More workout and weight loss tips from Prevention
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