Exercise: Getting More for Less

Dr. Timothy Chifamba

A lack of time is often the reason for one not exercising. One may argue that we make time for what matters to us, but there are those days when your schedule is packed, we lack the zeal or just not up to an hour of working out. On such days it is vital to remember that some exercise is better than no exercise. But how can one efficiently make the most of the few minutes they manage to squeeze into their schedule?


Physical exercise can be subdivided into aerobic and anaerobic exercise. During Aerobic exercise, there is the movement of the body that increases the use of oxygen. As a result, heart rate and breathing rate increases. The most notable advantage of aerobic exercise is that it makes it possible for one to exercise for prolonged periods at a time. This is because the muscles in use have sufficient oxygen for use in the creation of the energy demanded to maintain physical activity. Examples of aerobic exercise include walking, running, swimming and cycling at a moderate pace.


In contrast to aerobic exercise, Anaerobic exercise consists of movement that does not require oxygen. Movement during anaerobic exercise is sudden and intense and therefore relies on the breakdown of glucose into energy. Due to the intensity of anaerobic exercise, the oxygen within the muscle cells cannot cope with the demand. The body then changes to using glucose within the cells to create the required energy. As the process of using glucose begins, a build-up of lactic acid occurs culminating in muscle pain and discomfort. Anaerobic exercise is customarily performed in short sessions rather than as prolonged activities. Examples of anaerobic exercise include sprinting, weight lifting and jumping rope.


High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a type of exercise in which one deliberately alternates between being highly active and not-so-active. The high-intensity periods are for a brief period in which there is a spurt of energy released from anaerobic exercise. The recovery periods typically last longer; during these, individuals engage in aerobic exercise. Typically, a high-intensity interval training session consisting of four to six repetitions of alternations between the two extremes. An example of high-intensity interval training is sprinting for two minutes then walking or lightly jogging for four minutes.


Advantages of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) include the ability to squeeze it into a busy schedule. Furthermore, it is estimated to have the potential to double the benefits of moderate physical activity as it increases metabolism, develops muscles, improves the muscles’ ability to utilize oxygen, and results in body weight management. So, the next time you feel like you lack the time for an entire exercise session, consider getting out there for some HIIT. Could it be that you get more for less?