Low-intensity exercise may not be the first choice for weight loss. However, it can be just as effective as a high-intensity workout when it comes to shedding unwanted kilos and keeping fit. Not only that but with less impact on your body you’ll reduce the likelihood of injury and sore muscles. Now all that is left to do is decide which type of exercise to try your hand at!
‘Yoga is a collection of physical, mental and spiritual practices or disciplines that originated 5 000 years ago in ancient India,’ explains leading London yoga teacher Sarah Highfield. ‘In the West, yoga is mostly known as a physical practice – designed to increase strength and flexibility – as well as for its breathing exercises.’
Generally yoga is considered a form of low-intensity exercise. Though most studios will offer classes in more dynamic styles like vinyasa, ashtanga and power yoga. These are usually the classes people will turn to for weight loss. But Sarah says that a low-intensity practice performed regularly ‘will definitely help you to strengthen your body and reduce stress (rises in stress hormone cortisol are linked to weight gain).’
If your aim is to lose weight then the recommended amount of low-intensity exercise is 150 minutes a week. For Sarah though it’s all about exercising when it feels right for you. ‘My recommendation is to do what you can, and you will find that if you enjoy it, you will end up doing more. If it’s not for you, then don’t worry,’ says Sarah. Some might be happy with 30 minutes every day, others 45 minutes three times a week. Find what works for you.
If you want to start at home, we suggest local YouTube yogi Kyle Koumbatis. His YouTube page, Colour Yoga with Kyle, is filled with content including a Yoga for Beginners series.
Looking for more yoga content from locals? We have a bunch for you to discover here:
A good brisk walk is a great form of low-intensity exercise, especially as it can be done anywhere. If you manage to get onto a mountain or along a beach your body and mind will benefit from the fresh air. Plus you’ll have the added natural hurdles of soft sand or an incline or two to gently challenge you.
‘If you’re not very active, start with a stroll and gradually increase the pace and distance,’ says personal trainer Nick Hewitt. ‘Walking can help you build stamina, improve your muscular endurance and body composition, burning any of those excess calories.’ Low-intensity exercise like this is also a wonderful opportunity for multitasking. Many women form exercise groups around walking, giving them time to catch up while keeping healthy.
If you can’t manage to get outdoors at a safe time take to your gym’s treadmill. It’s a great time to listen to podcasts or audiobooks, but it can be a little boring. We suggest trying the 12-3-30 workout, it’s been a real game changer for so many people! We’ve written about it here:
Swimming is a great full-body low-intensity workout that can help you tone up and lose weight as well. Swimming a few lengths works all the muscle groups, and you’ll get a good aerobic workout if you increase the pace. Although, there’s no rush here – take it as you need to.
How much will you lose? This depends on your weight. As a rough guide, someone weighing around 57kg can burn up to 590 calories in an hour when swimming fast and 413 an hour when going at a slower pace. If your aim is to lose weight, go for two to five hours every week. Want to burn more? Try outdoor water swimming. The cold water will make your body work harder to keep you warm, meaning you’ll burn more calories.
Cold water swimming has become quite the movement thanks to extreme athlete Wim Hof. He is the creator of the Wim Hof Method which combines breathing, cold therapy, and commitment to help you connect more deeply to your body. Those who practice it claim it can lead to a stronger immune system, better sleep, better mental focus through the day and reduced stress. British journalist – and fashion guru of Trinny & Susannah – Susannah Constantine, is a big fan and has even written about it for the Daily Mail.
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