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Top five things you did not know about exercise and sport

This article appears in:
Exercise and Sport Science, Future and Focus, Health


Hear from Dr Jim Lee, Senior Lecturer -Exercise and Sport Science at CDU who sheds some light on exercise myths and shares some little known facts.

Jim_Lee_Profile.jpgDr Jim Lee has a passion for sport and research, and loves finding new ways that technology can help people improve in sport. To teach and research sport science is his dream job. Jim is involved in the iScholar program at CDU, a program that involves ‘flipping the classroom’ – finding innovative ways to deliver lecture material.

Train smart not hard

Many people have the perception that: “If I am this fit from training this much, that I will get twice as fit from training twice as much”. What people need to appreciate is that it is generally not the case. Any exercise places stress on your body. Because of this, your body says: “wow that was stressful, I better do something about this so it does not hurt next time…”. So when you are resting, sleeping (generally not being active) your body adapts in response to the stress.  People who overtrain do not allow their bodies to adapt – adaptation is how you get fitter.

Training principles

There are three key areas to take into account when exercising:

  • Frequency: how often
  • Intensity: how hard
  • Volume: how much

Actually there is a 4th which is “Type” of exercise, but we will worry about that for another time. What traditionally happens (a bit less nowadays) is that people train often with high volume and at low intensity – often known as “long slow distance” – so people exercise a lot, going a long way, but not as hard as they can. Frequency, volume, and intensity can be adjusted from long slow distance to very short bursts, not very often, but at very high intensity and done three or four times a week – I trained for a marathon by training this way every second day. This high intensity has recently become popular (although has been used since the 1960/70s in the former Soviet Bloc countries). It is most often classified as high intensity interval training (HIIT).


High intensity interval training means that you exercise at high intensity and because high intensity exercise cannot be maintained, it is broken up with recovery periods. For aerobic exercise (cardio or fat burning types), the ratio of exercise to recovery is normally 1:1. Although this can vary. The shortest HIIT that has been reported in a scientific journal is known as the Tabata Protocol. It involves 20 secs of high intensity (on) followed by 10 secs of recovery (off) (1 interval) with 8 intervals in the exercise session. That is a session totalling 4 minutes – who would not prefer this to a 90 minute workout? For this to benefit anyone, it has to be all out effort in the on sections. Therefore is very stressful and by the time the 4 mins are up, you should feel like dying (figuratively speaking). The key to it all is that you don’t think doing it heaps of times will make you twice as fit….

Benefits of exercise

It does not take much to make a big difference to your health. At the very least, something is better than nothing. People who start exercising see immediate benefits. Benefits can be reductions in the risk of cardiovascular diseases, weight loss, reduction in many disease risks such as diabetes; osteoporosis; arthritis; etc.

Immediate weight loss

Did you know that the majority of weight you lose during exercise is by breathing… Can you think how? One important point to remember is that many people who decide to exercise do so for weight loss. Most people lose a lot of weight in the time shortly after starting a training regime. However, the majority of this is fluid loss and not fat stores. Fat loss is gradual. The misconception of lots of weight loss means that when fluid loss reduces and typical actual loss of body fat can be seen, it is only in gradual amounts. This often becomes demotivating and people cannot see the worth of putting in all the effort. What is needed to be understood is that there is a lot of energy in a molecule of fat. That means a lot of exercise, over time is required to burn that energy.

Charles Darwin University offers a Diploma, Associate and Bachelor Degree of Exercise and Sport Science. You are able to study online or on campus either part- or full-time. Find out more about how you can get involved in Exercise and Sport Science with CDU.

You can follow more of Jim's sporting adventures through his blog: Jim Sports Lab.


This article appears in:
Exercise and Sport Science, Future and Focus, Health

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