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Clock on to Tabata

Make the most of your minutes during your movement with this fun approach to an activity!

Exercise can be a bit like stepping into the surf when the water’s cold. The longer you ponder whether to get in, the harder it is to do.

If turning your thoughts of physical movement into action is a barrier, Tabata may be the short-and-sharp session for you. It combines bursts of higher intensity movement with periods of rest or recovery, with even a few minutes leading to fitness benefits.

Named after the Japanese researcher who developed the protocol for elite speedskaters, the approach has been widely adopted and tweaked for mere mortals aiming to make a change.

Touted to drive better results than long, slow movements, Tabata raises the heart rate quickly. Recovery is frequent but only lasts long enough to briefly catch your breath before it’s time to ramp up again.

That might sound daunting, but a bout of Tabata can go for as little as four minutes, making it an appealing option when squeezing some activity into the day.

A round might look like this:

  • Work at high intensity for 20 seconds
  • Rest or move at low intensity for 10 seconds
  • Repeat the above sequence eight times

One round will get the heart pumping but adding a few rounds – either repeating the activity or changing to a different movement – flies by, making Tabata a quick but satisfying physical activity.

Modifying is easy – just dial into an activity to suit your fitness level. From riding a bike to throwing a ball with a partner, any type of movement can be Tabata-fied. The key is creating intervals of high activity followed by recovery.

If walking gets your heart started, why not try a novel approach? Signposts or markers on a walking track can be used instead of a watch to build intervals of intensity. For example, use light posts positioned every 50 metres or so, walking at a fast pace for two-thirds of the way, then slowing for the remaining third. Before you know it, you’ll have completed a set of intervals that rival the benefits of your usual leisurely stroll.

Tabata is a great way to spice up your routine because it:

  • can be adapted to different activities
  • requires minimal time
  • adds variety to exercise options
  • provides a cardio boost to regular activity.

Apply Tabata principles to the home office with squats between meetings. Dance your heart out during the verses of a favourite song, and rest during the chorus. Race the clock when scrubbing the bath or mopping floors or do jumping jacks while waiting for the kettle to boil.

With a bit of inspiration, you’ll tick that activity box before you have time to talk yourself out of it.

Last updated: September 26, 2023 at: 11:33 pm