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Friday, January 13, 2006
Mini Steppers, Interval Training and Weight Loss

Resting metabolic rate is the number of calories that your body burns just to maintain vital functions.

Mini Steppers, Interval Training and Weight Loss

This article was brought to you by Truestar Health: The World's Most Comprehensive Nutrition, Fitness & Healthy Lifestyle Resource


Resting Metabolic Rate
Resting metabolic rate is the number of calories that your body burns just to maintain vital functions. Raising the RMR can help you to lose weight by changing the balance of the calories that you take in with food and the calories that your body uses for activity and for vital functions. If the RMR is too low, it can be an obstacle to losing weight because it takes less food intake to exceed your calorie needs per day. Exercise can build RMR. These include strength- training to build the amount of muscle in your body and interval training (IT).

Raising RMR with Strength-Training
Strength-training can increase your RMR, especially if it leads to an increase of muscle mass. You can accomplish this with a program of weight-lifting that especially emphasizes the large muscle groups of your body such as the chest, upper back (including the lats), the abdominals and the thighs. You can make gains if you strength- train muscle groups three times per week. Your strength-training should include enough resistance to make the last set of 1 to 2 repetitions very difficult. It can also be helpful to eat some protein within one hour of strength-training.

Interval Training
Interval training involves increasing the intensity of any aerobic activity to above your aerobic zone. This level of intensity will make you feel like you are working quite hard and that it would be difficult to carry on a conversation. Intervals should only be considered if you have been doing aerobic exercise regularly for at least 12 weeks. It is also important to be screened and cleared by your physician to make sure that you are safe to do intervals. It is important that you do not have any active foot, ankle, knee, hip or back problems. Intervals of 1.5 to 3 minutes can be done during the aerobic activity once you have warmed up and completed at least a few minutes of aerobic exercise in your heart rate zone. Your heart rate zone may be 60% to 70% of your max heart rate if you are trying to lose weight and 70% to 85% of your max heart rate if you are trying to stay in shape and maintain your weight. Your max heart rate can be calculated as 220 minus your age. You can do intervals while running, hiking, while on an Elliptical machine or mini stepper or in a cycling class.

Mini Stepper
A mini stepper is different than a stair master because it does not have electronic control, it may feel less sturdy and it is relatively low in cost. Some mini stepper models have handles and other models have foot units and no handles. Mini steppers can be used to do intervals away from a regular gym or aerobic workout. They can be used in your home or office. You can use them to do 1 to 2 intervals every 1 to 3 hours. Although the actual calories burned while using a mini stepper is not very high at each interval, there are still beneficial effects on your RMR by doing these intervals on a regular basis.

If you are trying to lose weight, it would be good to do both your longer aerobic session each day (45 to 60 minutes) and intervals throughout the day. When choosing a mini stepper, make sure that it is stable and sturdy enough to be able to stand and step comfortably. You should also make sure that it does not hurt your knees. Initially, try a one-minute step at a moderate rate and then try an interval of one minute at a faster rate. If this is comfortable, you can try intervals of 1.5 to 3 minutes.

If you work at an office and can leave the stepper in your office, try doing intervals during work breaks two times per day and again at lunch. If you are at home, you could do them once every hour. If you experience a lot of muscle soreness, you may want to try intervals every other day. If you experience any pain or shortness of breath, consult your physician.

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