Dr. Fuhrman Dr. Fuhrman

Exercise slower for health and performance


Do you love exercise because being exhausted releases endorphins? Do you hate exercise because being exhausted makes you feel miserable? You may be doing it wrong.

Philip Maffetone makes a good case for exercising slower. Slow, in this case, means in your aerobic zone, as opposed to in your anaerobic zone, where you get exhausted quickly. Running in the aerobic zone means running at the pace at which you can comfortably have a conversation with someone on the telephone, without gasping for breath at every sentence. Be honest with yourself about this. The goal is to be able to have a real conversation, not just stutter some sentences and wish the other person would stop talking. If you have a heartrate monitor, your target heart rate should be 180 minus Your Age, according to Philip Maffetone, author of Training for Endurance and The Maffetone Method.

Not only is training slowly better for your health, it will also likely improve your performance, even though that sounds contradictory (read the Low Heart Rate Training FAQ for more info). The most important reasons why slow is better, from The Maffetone Method, in my words:

  • Exercising in the aerobic zone makes you less likely to injure yourself.
  • Persons with better aerobic development are less likely to become dehydrated.
  • You'll burn more fat if your aerobic system is well developed.
  • You'll have more physical and mental energy if you exercise aerobically.
  • You'll eventually go faster if you continue to improve your aerobic system.
  • Increased aerobic function is good for your heart.
  • Antioxidant activity - so necessary to optimal health - takes place in the aerobic muscles
  • Exercise is much more fun if you have a well developed aerobic system.

Of course, training slowly only brings you so far. At some point, if you want to go further, you probably need to add speed training to your exercise regimen. I think most people will benefit from doing low heart rate training for at least a couple of months a year.

Further reading

(Both these links are highly recommended if you are interested in this subject)

June 16, 2006