I started a running club this summer. I know, shocker! The girl who hates running, and avoids it at all costs just admitted to creating a running club. But wait. You didn’t hear the name of our running group. We call ourselves the Sloth Army. And in the past few weeks, I’ve learned there are some valuable lessons one can learn about health and fitness from a sloth.
While I recognize the benefits to running, I feel confident in saying I’ll never be a “runner”. But does running super sloth slow count towards cardio exercise? Does it really do anything except make you feel like you are accomplishing something?
Turns out the answer is yes, running at super sloth slow speeds still helps improve your fitness in some of the most profound ways. While experts mostly agree it is good to go all out 3-4 times a week, they also state it’s better when you ease up once or twice a week and take things a little slow.
Here are some of the more surprising and beneficial reasons to slow down and go easy:
- Help keep hunger at bay and in check. Steadier sessions reduces appetite. After moderate cardio, exercisers showed less brain activity when looking at food, which may translate into being less interested in eating. In one study, women ate 59 fewer calories at lunch after a lower-intensity workout than after a HIIT routine. Makes sense. Sloths go really slow and their metabolism makes them eat slowly, too. While I have witnessed a sloth haul ass after a grape, their hauling ass is really just a comparative. I mean, at their absolute fastest, any one of us could easily overtake them.
- Slowing down helps build lean muscle. When we slowly lower a weight during the eccentric part of a move, it can increase muscle growth. Because muscles are under tension for longer, going slow helps build them up faster. Eccentric training count: lift weight for 2 counts, lower it for 4. Props to those sloths in the Amazon. They must do nothing but eccentric lifting, because for their slowness, they are ridiculously strong. They sleep while holding onto a tree branch for heaven’s sake! If we tried that, we’d fall to our deaths. Sloths are slow, but they are strong in muscle, and in cuteness. And in spirit.
- Slow down to stay on track. It seems people adhere better to moderate-intensity exercise than high-intensity. If we go all out all the time with our fitness, we would burn out and never want to return. But look at the sloths. They seem to enjoy their lives, hanging in the trees, slowly watching the world go by.
So, cheers for my Sloth Army. We are running. We’re slower than a herd of sloths stampeding through a batch of peanut butter, but we are running. And we are having a grand time doing it!