Running intervals is one way to get in shape.
Interval training can help you strengthen your muscles while getting a strong cardiovascular workout. According to James Driver, author of "High Intensity Interval Training Explained," interval training can also boost your metabolism for several hours after your workout, thus maximizing weight loss. Thirty minutes of interval training can be enough exercise, depending upon how frequently you're training and the specific type of exercise you're doing.
Intervals Done Right
Lots of training plans call themselves interval training and there's no single right way to do interval training. The key is to alternate bursts of intense exercise with moderate-intensity exercise. This places extra demands on your body and metabolism, boosting the effects of your routine. Aim for one minute or more of intense exercise -- such as sprinting or cycling at close to your maximum speed. A 2012 study published by the "Journal of Physiology" found that 20 minutes of interval training each day could improve physical fitness and muscle strength.
Frequency of Exercise
Thirty minutes of interval training can be a good start toward achieving your fitness goals, but you'll have to exercise daily or almost daily. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises 75 minutes of intense cardiovascular exercise per week or 150 minutes of moderate exercise; interval training is generally classified as intense cardio. The Mayo Clinic cautions that many people need 300 minutes of exercise per week to lose weight. If shedding calories is your goal, you'll need to work out longer than 30 minutes almost every day.
Type of Exercise
Interval training can provide some strength training, according to Driver. However, if the primary focus of your interval routine is cardio, 30 minutes of interval training might not provide enough strength training. The CDC advises adults to do weight-bearing exercise that works all major muscle groups at least two days per week. Strength training can reduce your risk of osteoporosis, decrease muscle pain and increase your mobility. It can also play a key role in helping you look more fit.
Try incorporating strength-based exercises into your interval routine by using circuit training. You'll do brief intervals of cardio, followed by two to three circuits of strength training and then follow up with another cardiovascular interval. If circuit training seems like too much, stick to your interval routine, but incorporate strength training into your workout by lifting weights or performing body weight exercises such as squats on your days off from interval training.