HOW TO BRING WELLNESS INTO THE WORKPLACE: 5 EASY, EFFECTIVE WAYS TO BOOST PRODUCTIVITY & EMPLOYEE HAPPINESS

There’s a common misconception that a hardworking employee is someone who skips lunch and works nights to get the job done.

Although this approach to work-life is somewhat admiral, the nonstop meetings, deadlines, late nights, early mornings and even weekends of work, all spell one thing – burnout.

When you live a life revolved around work, your health takes a back seat and stress takes over.

Companies who understand that an employee’s mental and physical wellbeing is a top priority and implement wellness programs to help achieve this are rewarded with happy, hardworking and healthy staff.

The truth is, corporate wellness programs will soon no longer be a benefit, but rather a necessity in the years to come.

What is a corporate wellness program?

Also known as an employee wellness program, it will include strategies aimed to improve the health and wellness of employees.

The program is designed to reduce stress, give advice and information on health and nutrition and also provide health assessments to help uncover staff-specific health issues.

Simply put – a wellness program helps your company to implement specific practices and techniques that aid in creating a happy and healthy workplace.

The benefits of a corporate wellness program

Before we get into the simple and effective ways you can incorporate wellness in the workplace, let’s first take a look at the benefits of a wellness program

Just a little head’s up – If you would like a more detailed description, have a look at our article to get clued up!

But for now, here are the basics:

  • Improved productivity
  • Higher engagement
  • Fewer sick days
  • Happier and dedicated staff
  • Better company culture
  • Easier recruiting
  • Higher retention

Now that you have a good idea on what a wellness program is and how it can benefit your company, let’s get to the good part…

 

5 simple ways to bring wellness into the workplace

The first step you need to take is to work with a Wellness Coach or Wellness Company who specialises in implementing wellness in the workplace.

This way you can ensure you are making the right choices and taking the right steps toward a healthier, happier and wellthier workplace.

1. Create a flexible work culture

Implementing flexible working hours will enable your employees to avoid traffic and encourage a better balance between their home and work life.

Perhaps you can even allow employees to work remotely once a week?

Still not convinced on flexible work arrangements?

Have a look at this study – researchers from Standford discovered that staff who worked in a flexible work environment produced better results, worked longer hours, took fewer sick days and were much happier at work. They felt trusted and supported as they were allowed to create their own work schedules without the nag factor of micromanagement.

2. Encourage nutrition through healthy meals and recipes

Nutrition and diet have major roles to play in our overall wellbeing.

If your diet consists of high contents of sugar, take outs and greasy foods, your body is going to respond adversely.

Poor nutrition leads to sleep issues, daytime fatigue and low productivity and energy levels at work.

What you put into your body is what you get out.

So, if you’re loading up on the take out and unhealthy canteen food from work (even the freshly baked muffins in the morning meetings), your body is going to take a toll.

Through encouraging healthy eating and allowing your employees to access healthy, filling and delicious foods, this will not only benefit their health but your company’s too.

3. Give employees access to health and wellness information

A great way to do this is to send out a monthly newsletter with healthy recipes, fitness and health tips and tricks and some motivating articles to read and videos to watch. Which is something a wellness company can put together for you.

Instead of bombarding your staff with meeting requests and status updates, throw something healthy in the mix in the form of a wellness mail or newsletter.

Another great way to do this is host weekly wellness workshops where professional wellness coaches can chat with your staff on what it means to live a healthy life and how to go about doing so.

4. Reward healthy behaviours

Provide gym discounts and fitness allowances. For example, you could reward employees who work out a certain amount of times a week with a free coffee booster. You could also reward those who reach their fitness goal (run a 5km or take up a healthy eating plan and stick to it.)

There are all sorts of fun and rewarding ways you can encourage healthy behaviours both at work and at home.

5. Get your staff to move more

Ever heard of a walking meeting? It’s where you and your staff take a stroll to discuss things instead of sitting in a boardroom.

If this isn’t your style, then why not create lunchtime yoga sessions or mindfulness mornings?

The more exercise your employees can fit into their daily lives, the better they wellbeing will be.

 

Are you ready to bring wellness into the workplace?

If after reading this, you are ready to motivate employees, improve their health and happiness and in turn, improve productivity and the success of your company, then it’s time you get in touch with us.

What WellBe can do for your company:

  • Health-related digital content and newsletters
  • Workplace workouts
  • Menu additions, meal suggestions & recipes
  • Weekly workshops and seminars
  • Customised exercise and nutrition plans
  • Ongoing health and wellness consulting
  • Counselling and psychological support
  • Physiotherapy and chiropractic assistance
  • Performance and personal development coaching

So, are you ready for wellness?

HOW TO STAY MOTIVATED THIS WINTER: 7 PROVEN STEPS TO KEEP GOING IN THE COLD

Have you lost your enthusiasm to exercise in the cold winter months? Well, you are not alone.

Staying productive and motivated during the frosty days of winter isn’t easy. We all know what it’s like, the temperature drops and so does our eagerness to get out and exercise.

We often find ourselves switching to mornings spent cuddled up with hot cocoa under the sheets and evenings snuggled in front of Netflix or our fireplace. Our morning workouts start to slip away, we have pressed snooze so many times we lost count and our evening exercise routines are no more. All we want to do is get home, get warm and stay that way.

Sound familiar?

Why it’s so hard to workout in winter

Well, for one, the cold weather isn’t exactly inviting now is it?

And secondly, once you start to skip a workout here and there, other aspects of your once healthy lifestyle often start to take a hit. It might be easier to grab some hot takeout as opposed to popping into the shops to get some groceries for dinner. When it’s cold, everything seems like an effort and we tend to slowly slip into ‘sloth’ mode. Too many skipped workouts and takeouts start to add up until eventually, we find ourselves in a slump. A ‘sloth’ mode slump, if you will.

Not exercising and not sticking to a healthy eating plan is a recipe for disaster as our nutrition and fitness have a profound effect on our lives.

That’s why we have put together this fitspired guide of 7 easy ways to regain (and keep) your motivation to exercise and get your health back in line.

1. Set goals and stick to them

Start with setting attainable goals. Perhaps you want to run a 5km without stopping to walk. Maybe you want to improve your lifestyle through healthy eating and exercising 3 times a week. The simpler the goal, the better.

Performance-focused goals are often better than aesthetic goals. So, instead of setting a goal to look a certain way, set a goal to do something fitness related like running a race or attending spinning classes twice a week or even sticking to a workout routine. That way you have something more tangible to work towards.

If you aren’t sure where to start, then get in touch with our team and we can help you set realistic goals and help you reach them.

2. Find simple ways to reach your goals

The moment you set your goals, then you need an action plan.

This could be developed with a personal trainer or a nutritionist. At Wellbe, we pride ourselves on helping our clients reach their goals through personally designed programs that actually work, are grounded in science and are delivered in a fun, approachable and lifestyle-focused ways.

To realistically reach your bigger goals, break them down into smaller ones. It can be as simple as eating more veggies every day, waking up when your alarm goes off (even if it is still dark outside) and skipping out on your weekly take out meal. Speaking of eating your vegetables, here’s a great recipe for healthy bell peppers.

Expert tip – Track your workouts. This way you can take notice of your day-to-day victories to keep you motivated.

3. Prep like the boss you are

We have all been there – we forget our gym shoes, forgot about the yoga class we booked, didn’t have time to make lunch at home so end up grabbing something unhealthy from the canteen or the fast-food place down the road at work.

Try to implement easy organisational tricks to make sticking to your goals and plan a whole lot easier.

Set aside your afternoon on a Sunday to meal prep.

Set reminders in your phone for workouts. And stick to them as best you can.

Pack your gym bag the night before and make sure you have everything in there for your workout (and pack something warm for after).

Scared to hit the gym? Have a look at our Girl’s Guide To Surviving The Weight Section.

4. Take care of yourself

Make sure you are well-fed (with healthy foods of course), worry-free and happy. This way you will feel more motivated to reach your goals.

Go to bed early and try to get at least 6 to 8 hours of GOOD, actually, GREAT sleep a night.

Have a long hot Epsom salt bath once or twice a week.

Spend time reading your book, in nature or watching your favourite series. Don’t forget to do things that make you happy.

Expert tip – Yoga and deep breathing are great ways to relieve stress. Have a look at this awesome Youtube Channel  – Yoga with Adriene.

5. Phone a friend

Schedule workouts with a friend. That way you can both motivate each other to get up and show up at workouts and fitness classes.

6. Keep things fresh

Routine can be a great way to get the best results, but it can become a bit monotonous at times. If your meal or fitness plans are getting a little boring, then try experimenting with new things.

Attend different fitness classes at the gym. If you have a personal trainer or Wellness Coach, then chat to them about how you can make your fitness plan more exciting.

So many people find that their meal plans start to get ‘tasteless’ over time. That’s because they don’t realise how many amazing and healthy food options there are out there. Have a look at these 12 Healthy Winter Recipes for some inspiration.

7. Be honest with yourself

Remember, your motivation comes from within. If you don’t feel like training or you are craving a cheat meal, then ask yourself why?

Maybe you had a bad day at work. Maybe you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed right now. Maybe you are trying to find an excuse? No matter what the answer is, don’t be afraid to be honest with yourself.

Sometimes a workout can make you feel better. And sometimes maybe you just need to take the day off and have a long bath and a warm dinner.

Just make sure you hit the gym tomorrow.

What it comes down to

The winter months might be long and cold, but there are simple and effective ways to find the motivation you are lacking to hit the gym, workout and stick to a healthy eating plan.

Remember to not be too hard on yourself. Do what you can with the time you have and know that your best is ALWAYS more than good enough.

Keep at it! You’re doing great.

WellBe Company

1 PIECE OF EQUIPMENT. 10 MOVES. ALL THE SWEAT.

How many times has this happened to you…

It’s been a long and tough day at work. Nothing sounds better than going home and nose-diving onto your couch where you’ll likely (most definitely) spend the rest of your day feet up and binge-watching your current guilty pleasure on Netflix. Just when you think you might cave, your willpower kicks in and you somehow manage to convince yourself to go to the gym for a stress-busting sweat-inducing workout instead – damn you Discovery Vitality! You’re dressed, sweat towel in hand and earphones blasting the latest T Swift tunes (don’t even try to deny it). You walk over to the workout section. You look left, right. There are people everywhere, swarming like a sweaty hive of bees. And there’s not a free piece of equipment in sight.

Ugh.

It’s because of moments like these that I swear I have Pre-Gym Anxiety Disorder (or PGAD if you will).

But no stress. We at WellBe have put together this killer workout that will give you all the burn in just 10 moves. Best part? All you need is a barbell.

Download Workout

WellBe Diet Strategy

THE FOOL-PROOF DIET TO GET THE BODY OF YOUR DREAMS

I’m sure you were hoping I’d start explaining this magical diet, probably containing kale or some gag-worthy detox tonic, which will guarantee a slimmer and trimmer you in just 2 weeks! Am I right?

Unfortunately, as much as we’d all like to believe there is a unicorn-diet out there that could deliver on these promises, the hard reality is that there just isn’t. When it comes to dieting or exercise, anything that sounds extreme or too good to be true, most probably is and most probably should be avoided at all costs. These extreme approaches are termed “fad diets” and they’re downright dangerous for you. They perpetuate destructive restriction and binge cycles that by the end of it, leave you fatter, frustrated and more disillusioned than when you started.

When it comes to nutrition and training there is no “one-size-fits-all”, no perfect program. What works for one person may not necessarily work for you, and that doesn’t mean one way is better or worse than the other. So next time you’re looking to weed out the fads diets from the truly healthy changes, ask yourself the following 5 questions:

 

1. Does it fit my lifestyle?

If you’re a professional athlete, a busy student or a desk-bound businessman/woman, your diet must adapt to and complement your lifestyle, not the other way around.

 

2. Is it something I can adhere to on a consistent basis?

If you can’t stomach rich, high-fat foods, stop trying to force yourself to be a “banter”. If you can’t stand the taste of kale, stop trying to survive on green juices. The nutrition choices you make need to align with your own personal food preferences and become habits that unconsciously form part of your everyday eating.

 

3. Will it help you achieve your desired results without forcing you to go to extreme measures?

Where most people go wrong is they try doing too much too soon. They drop calories, cut out certain food groups, go cold-turkey on all the foods they crave and although initially see results, inevitable the unsustainability of the diet catches up with them and they rebound. Small, manageable baby-steps in the right direction is all it takes.

 

4. Does it allow you to incorporate the foods you enjoy eating? (In moderation of course!)

I refuse to live in a world where I’m told I can’t ever eat bread or chocolate again. You don’t have to ban or demonize the foods you love- rather learn smart ways to fit them into your life and enjoy them mindfully.

 

5. Can you see yourself maintaining this for weeks, months and years down the line?

If you’re thinking of this as a sprint- you’ve lost already. You need to think of this as a permanent lifestyle change. So if your current diet is giving you commitment phobia, that’s a sure sign to get out now.

There are pros and cons to every type of nutrition program. The sooner you stop giving into the ridiculous “quick-fix” fads out there and find out what type of nutrition program you can enjoy adhering to the most, the sooner you’ll set yourself up not only to successfully lose weight, but keep it off too.

 

WellBe Company

HAVE YOUR COCKTAIL AND DRINK IT TOO? YOUR ULTIMATE GIRL’S NIGHT OUT GUIDE

Who doesn’t love a good “Girl’s Night Out”? Drinks… friends… memories you do (or maybe don’t) remember. But all too often we find ourselves using one too many tequila shots as an excuse to make poor food (and life) decisions. Fun-filled nights turn into mornings of regret and guilt when we see the evidence of the late night fast food binge littered on our bedroom floor. But this doesn’t need to be the case. With just a few small smart tweaks, you can feel great all night long and help stave off the post party boozy-blues the next day.

Let’s set the scene.

You’ve organized a long overdue girl’s night out with 5 friends this Friday. You’re notorious for going all out when you’re together and you’re no stranger to 24 hour hangover recovery turnaround times either…

It’s 5am on Friday morning and instead of hitting the “snooze” button one or 6 times, you get dressed and head off to the gym.

Getting an early morning workout in first thing will not only raise your feel-good endorphin levels, but also help boost your metabolism and pre-burn off some of those liquid calories you intend on consuming later. During your workout, make sure to maintain a high-intensity tempo to keep your heartrate high and target large muscle groups like your legs and back to maximize the potential calorie burn. Think supersets, circuit training and lots and lots of sweat.

If ever there’s a day to hit your water goals, it’s today.

Those frequent bathroom trips and hours spent standing in the line for the ladies’ loo aren’t a coincidence. Alcohol is a diuretic and often leaves a person in a mild state of dehydration following a night out drinking. Make sure to consume 500ml-1L more liquid than you would normally, either in the form of plain water, calorie free flavoured drink options or herbal teas.

*Health hack- Herbal teas, such as green tea, have been shown to promote liver health and wellbeing and is a great and tasty way to potentially help buffer the negative effects of alcohol consumption on the body.

Your typical Friday croissant or muffin fix for breakfast just won’t cut it.

If you know you’re going to be going out in the evening, a safe general nutrition strategy is to make food and meal choices that are high in micronutrients but lower in calories. This allows you to “bank” a few extra calories for the evening when you need them most. Processed and highly refined foods, such as pastries, are calorie-dense food options that spike your insulin levels and inevitably leave you feeling low and sluggish. Opt for a well-balanced and nutritious start to your morning with an oat, frozen berry and whey protein smoothie, poached eggs and avocado on rye toast or a small bowl of gut-friendly Greek yogurt, fruit and a sprinkling of raw muesli and seeds.

Crunchy water is your snack food BFF.

Regular alcohol consumption can hamper your body’s immune system and wreak havoc with your hormones. Raw fruit and vegetables are nutritional powerhouses packed full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which act to counteract some of these negative effects. If that wasn’t enough, they’re also naturally high in water and fibre, meaning they can help you stay hydrated and feeling fuller for longer. Pair sliced apple or vegetable crudités with unsweetened nut butter and hummus respectively and you have the perfect healthy go-to snack.

“Kankles” are never a good look.

Sitting for prolonged periods of time, such as at your desk at work, can lead to poor circulation and subsequently promote water retention in the feet and ankles. Be sure to take frequent breaks to go walk around. Better yet, take a stroll outside during lunch time so you can soak up some mood-boosting Vitamin D, work on a light sun-kissed glow and brainstorm your outfit for the evening.

*Just some woman to woman advice- take full advantage of “casual Fridays” and use it as an opportunity to wear flats or pumps to work. This way you spare your feet for the killer heels you plan on wearing tonight.

Speaking of lunch…

Keep it light and simple. Choose a lean protein option such as grilled chicken or lean beef and pair it with a couscous and roast vegetable salad, or bundle it up in a lettuce or small whole wheat salad wrap.

Hellooo Happy Hour!

But first, don’t forget to eat dinner. Like, actual dinner. We’ve all made the mistake of going out drinking on an empty stomach. And it never ends well. Without a decent meal in your stomach, any alcohol consumed quickly diffuses into your blood stream and it’s always a slippery (often blurry) slope down from there. Try to consume a protein and healthy fat-based meal before drinking. This will help reduce muscle protein breakdown and, due to the delay in gastric emptying, both these nutrients can naturally control the rate at which your body absorbs alcohol. A great option is salmon, or any oily fish of choice, paired with a small serving of green vegetables and brown rice or quinoa.

*Health hack- Squeeze over some fresh lemon or lime to add a citrusy zing to your meal as well as help alkalise the body. For additional liver support, a milk thistle supplement can also be used which has been shown to help ameliorate the acute negative effects of alcohol ingestion.

Shaken, not stirred.

Simply put, alcohol is viewed as a toxin by your body. As alcohol is consumed, the metabolism of protein, carbs and most importantly, fat are all put on hold, and the focus of the body is turned to metabolizing and getting rid of the newly introduced alcohol as quickly and efficiently as possible. In short what this means is that while drinking, your body’s ability to burn fat is hindered and fat storing capability is increased. This a double-whammy for the bikini body department. Sugary alcoholic drinks and fizzy mixers can exponentially increase the calorie damage of any drink choice. Instead, for a more figure-friendly option, go for wine (sparkling or dry white being the lowest in calories) or choose drinks neat, over ice or use sparkling water or sugar free drinks as mixers.

Pick your poison, carefully.

Whiskey, cognac and tequila are known to contain higher amounts of congeners. Congeners are naturally occurring toxic products found in alcohol and have been shown to result in more intense and frequent hangovers than clearer spirits such as vodka, gin or white rum.

I’ll have one extra-large pizza with a side of regret, please.

We all know that stop off at the nearest fast-food restaurant on the way back home from a night out all too well. And it’s this often >1000 calorie meal that is the main culprit for the scale going up. If you need to pick up something on the way home, make it something high in protein and try go for the “realest” food option on the menu. Better yet, make sure you have healthy and delicious leftovers ready and waiting to be heated up in the microwave for when you get home. My go-to? A steamy bowl of lean beef or chicken meatballs in a tomato and garlic sauce.

One last night cap?

You’re exhausted and are about to fall face first into bed. Hopefully you’ve been alternating between alcohol and water throughout the night, but if you forgot to properly hydrate, have some coconut water (or any available electrolyte supplement) before bed, ideally with a pinch of salt. The potassium and sodium will you’re your body rehydrate and is a great tasting way to prevent a hellish hangover in the morning.

So… brunch?

Sleep deprivation will only make you feel worse the next day, so don’t feel bad about getting in some extra recovery Z’s. Make sure your first meal of your day pack’s a protein punch (eggs are always a winner) to kick start your metabolism again. Pair your breakfast with a fresh green juice (no not a Bloody Mary) to flood your body with some much needed nutrients and water and get you psychologically feeling good again. If you’re up for it, get your body going too with some yoga, walk or a light run outside.

Round two anyone?

www.wellbecompany.com

 

WellBe Company

8 REASONS WHY EVERY WOMAN SHOULD LIFT WEIGHTS

Maybe you’ve thought about lifting weights. Maybe you’ve even done some dumbbell curls or picked up a barbell. But every time you hit the iron though, you feel unsure, insecure, and a little fearful.

Undoubtedly, you’ve heard the horror stories: lifting heavy weights makes women bulky, it’s dangerous, it’s bad for your joints, and once you have muscle, you can’t stop lifting or it will all turn to fat. It’s all BS, and it feeds into stereotypes that are keeping too many women from experiencing the profound benefits of resistance training.

It’s time to put that fear and uncertainty aside. The fact is lifting weights does none of those awful things. What it does is help you to live in a healthier, stronger body.

When you sit down to list your fitness objectives, you may be surprised to learn that that strength training will not only help you reach them, but may reach them faster than performing cardio exercise alone.

Now don’t get me wrong, yoga and spinning definitely have their place in a well-rounded fitness routine (and are both things I regularly do myself). But if you’re feeling a bit stuck in a rut and not seeing the results you want, strength training could be just the thing missing from your training regimen! Here’s why:

 

  1. MORE EFFECTIVE FAT LOSS

Think weightlifting only benefits those who want shirt-ripping arms? Think again.

Although many people consider weightlifting only a means to add size, when compared head-to-head against cardiovascular exercise, resistance training comes out on top in the battle to burn calories.

How is that possible you ask? It boils down to your body’s ability to burn fat during and after an intense weight-based exercise session. After a heavy bought of strength training, you continue to consume additional oxygen in the hours and even days that follow. This is known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC.

When your body uses more oxygen, it requires more caloric expenditure and subsequently boosts your metabolic rate.

 

  1. MORE MUSCLE = MORE CALORIE BURN

As you increase strength and lean muscle mass, your body begins to us calories more efficiently. Daily muscle contractions from a simple blink to a heavy squat contribute to how many calories you burn in a given day. Sitting burns fewer calories than standing; standing burns fewer than walking, and walking burns fewer than strength training.

The more muscle contractions you experience during a day, the more calories you’ll burn. If you have more lean muscle mass, you’ll have more muscle contractions and hey presto, burn more calories!

 

  1. CURVES

Now endurance-type training can definitely help you lose weight, however that weight comes in the form of both fat and muscle. If you’re losing both fat and muscle, you can lose your lovely curves as well. In contrast, regular resistance training will help define your arms and shoulders, build your glutes and tone your legs, promoting a more hourglass body shape.

So if its curves you’re after, strength training is what you need to create and sustain them.

 

  1. QUALITY SLEEP

Strength training and sleep? Yip, you hear right! Numerous studies have shown how regular resistance training or high-intensity training, particularly when done in the morning, greatly improves sleep quality, aiding in your ability to fall asleep faster, sleep deeper, and wake less often during the night.

 

  1. INCREASED ENERGY

Remember that EPOC we mentioned earlier – the fact that resistance training causes an increase in energy expenditure hours after you train. Well, a study published by the National Institute of Health suggests that the consistent increase in energy expenditure, even after a minimal strength training session, may positively impact energy balance and fat oxidation. Who knew grabbing a barbell could have the same energy-boosting effects as an afternoon cup of coffee?

 

  1. HEART HEALTH

Studies found in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning have shown that those who lift weights are less likely have heart disease risk factors such as elevated blood pressure, high triglycerides, a large waist circumference and elevated glucose levels.

Pumping iron is actually so effective at reducing your risk of heart disease that it has since been approved as a healthy form of exercise for those at risk from the American Heart Association.

 

  1. BONE HEALTH

Both bone and muscle mass naturally decreases as you age. However, due to their declining levels of estrogen, postmenopausal women are at even greater risk for developing weak, porous bones and osteoporosis. Weight-bearing exercise, such as resistance training, has been proven as an excellent way to combat loss of bone mass, and subsequently decrease the risk of osteoporosis. And remember, the earlier you begin weightlifting, the greater chance you have to maintain bone health later in life.

 

  1. STRESS RELIEF

Exercise, in general, is a great way to manage stress. Researchers have consistently found that those who regularly strength train tend to manage stress better and experience fewer adverse reactions to stressful situations as those who do not exercise.

In addition, resistance-training studies on older adults show that moderate-intensity weightlifting improves memory and cognitive function. So next time you need to blow off some steam, hit the weights.

 

LIFT LADIES, LIFT!

All of us want to feel strong, determined, and confident in everything we do: from fitting into jeans, to moving heavy furniture, to playing with kids, to dealing with a stressful career. Resistance training can benefit all these aspects of your life. So be sure to put it in your fitness plan and feel stronger, healthier, and more confident!

 

REFERENCES

Roveda, Eliana, et. Al. Effects of endurance and strength acute exercise on night sleep quality. International SportMed Journal. 2011; 12(3): 113-124.

Kirk, Erik P., et. Al. Minimal resistance training improves daily energy expenditure and fat oxidation. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010; 41(5): 1122-1129.

Magyari PM, Churilla JR. Association between lifting weights and metabolic syndrome among U.S. Adults: 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. J Strength Cond Res. 2012 Nov; 26(11): 3113-7.

Cardoso, Crivaldo Gomes, et. Al. Acute and chronic effects of aerobic and resistance exercise on ambulatory blood pressure. Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2010; 65(3):317-325.

Muir JM, Ye C, Bhandari M, Adachi JD, Thabane L. The effect of regular physical activity on bone mineral density in post-menopausal women aged 75 and over: a retrospective analysis from the Canadian multicentre osteoporosis study. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2013 Aug 23; 14: 253.

Stone M, Stone Meg, Sands W. Psychological Aspects of Resistance Training. In: Principles and Practice of Resistance Training. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics; 2009. p. 229-241.

WANT FAST FAT LOSS? THE HIIT VS LISS FACE-OFF

HIIT and LISS are acronyms for High-Intensity Interval Training and Low-Intensity Steady State respectively. They are two commonly used cardio styles and differ greatly in both practical application and physical effects.

HIIT consists of short, all-out sprint intervals alternated with periods of low-intensity recovery periods. An example would be a 30 second 100% effort sprint followed by a 1-2 minute steady pace walk, repeated 10 times (think sweat, LOTS of sweat). LISS, on the other hand, would involve a constant low-to-moderate paced walk, jog or bike ride at an intensity level that still raises your heat rate but allows for casual conversation.

HIIT, like weight training, is a form of anaerobic exercise, meaning it burns glucose for energy without oxygen being present. During bouts of HIIT training, your body’s fuel burning systems are put under a lot of stress. In order to meet the energy demands you are putting your body under, your body responds in two ways, 1) by increasing the activity of fat-burning enzymes to help free up available energy and 2) by increasing the mitochondrial capacity in your muscles. Mitochondria are the energy-producing units of your body. HIIT thus signals to your body to increase the total mitochondrial density in your muscles, meaning you have more fat-burning units at your disposal.  All of these metabolic adaptations have a cascading and synergistic effect, resulting in enhanced metabolic and fat loss activity over time.

What this means in real-life is that by doing HIIT your body is becoming more physically efficient and effective at turning on and utilizing its fat burning mechanisms and that this fat loss process is not only kept elevated for hours after your training has ended- termed the “afterburn” effect- but rather that these fat-burn changes are stable and lasting.

In contrast, due to the lower-intensity nature of LISS, this cardio strategy does not pose this same metabolic strain, thus limiting its fat burn potential to solely those minutes (or hours) you actively spend at the gym. Your body also has the tendency to adapt quickly to LISS exercise, meaning you will eventually burn fewer and fewer calories following the exact same cardio workout. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you should ditch LISS cardio all together. LISS cardio has many heart-protective and general health-promoting effects that should not be ignored (I personally find it quite therapeutic going for long runs or walks every week). All I’m saying is that slaving away for hours every day on a treadmill or bike hoping to see the physical results you want is not the best approach to cardio if your goal is fat loss.

So who wins? Well if your goal is to lean down and get fit fast- HIIT is your best cardio investment strategy that will ensure you get more burn-for-your-buck in return.

Happy sweating!