When it comes to fitness, most of us have been conditioned to believe workouts need to be tough, fast and grueling to be effective.
From F45 circuit sessions to spin classes, HIIT (high-intensity interval training) has become the gold standard of sweat sessions – offered everywhere from gyms to boutique studios to over-priced Instagram eBooks. And for good reason, too: It delivers results in a short amount of time and doesn’t require any real equipment to get started, making it perfect for the time-poor amongst us.
But pushing yourself to do as much cardio and as many exercises as you can in a limited amount of time isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Not only can it increase your risk of injury (think: stress fractures, muscle strains, inflamed tendons) but it can wreak havoc on your stress hormones, which is why health and fitness experts are predicting the rise of a slow exercise movement.
The movement has been dubbed LISS (low-intensity steady state) and focuses on maintaining the same pace for a set period of time, usually 30 to 60 minutes. Instead of rushing to get the heart rate up, these exercises try to keep the heart rate between 60 and 80 percent, which is the optimal fat-burning zone.
Low exercise doesn’t just mean trading your gym session for a walk. In fact, slow exercise can actually be harder than high-intensity workouts. Without momentum pushing you along, you have to do things properly, instead of just throwing yourself on the ground and calling it burpees.
While obvious examples include power walking, classes like hot yoga, reformer Pilates and Barre, which require you to hold certain movements to really feel the burn, fall into the slow exercise category while lengthening and toning. Even just slowing down weights-based moves you’re already doing counts.