Pace Those Workouts

Want to get the most of your exercise routine? Well, the best way may be to schedule a few deliberate rest days and not be so determined to make rigorous exercise a daily habit.

A provocative new study conducted by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that when women between the ages of 60 and 72 worked out intensely (for least an hour) six days a week they weren’t necessarily any fitter (and sometimes less fit!) than participants who matched their pace and stamina just four days a week. (By contrast, a group that worked out just two days a week was deemed less fit than both groups.)

While it seems contrary much of what we’ve gleaned from research about exercise over the years, researchers had an interesting take on what factors may have skewed their results in favor of a cohort that spent just a little less time pumping up their hearts and muscles. While they acknowledged more research is necessary, they suggested the reason the group that worked out a little less often, might not be as fatigued as the more committed-to-exercise group. Perhaps, researchers suggested, the other group stayed more active in their daily lives, doing good-for-you things such as walking their neighborhoods, climbing stairs and doing more active household chores.