Al Sears, M.D. in his new book, PACE: The 12-Minute Fitness Revolution, outlines a fitness program that copies nature better than any other exercise routine I?ve ever seen, heard about, or tried.

He asserts?with the backing of both scientific research and his own clinical experience’that this program has the power to rebuild your heart and lung function?and fully activate your body’s fat-burning capacity. And yes, it really only takes 12 minutes a day.

Cavemen didn’t go jogging!

So what exactly is Nature’s exercise pattern for humans? Well, for the vast majority of humanity’s time on planet Earth, the usual human exercise pattern has been running as fast as possible for only as long as necessary to catch lunch?or to avoid being lunch. Weight lifting was done only when there was actual work to do. Few?if any?individuals did repetitive daily running. In other words, cavemen (and cavewomen) didn’t go jogging.

As Dr. Sears out it: ?Your heart and lungs were designed for short bursts of intense exercise followed by rest. And that’s the exact opposite of what many modern ?fitness gurus? tell us is true.? He points out that ?animals instinctively exert themselves in small bursts followed by rest. You will never see an animal run for hours on end.?

And scientific study backs him up. As you?ll read in PACE (which is short for Progressively Accelerated Cardiovascular Exercise), running a marathon creates an inflammatory storm in the body that is identical to the early symptoms of heart disease. Dr. Sears notes one study in particular which found that 35 percent of marathoners had significant levels of arterial plaque, compared to just 22 percent of non-marathon-runners. That’s an increased risk of over 50 percent! Dr. Sears also points to the Harvard Health Professionals Study which found the key to lowering heart disease risk is the intensity of the exercise, not repetition or duration.

That’s just the beginning of the evidence supporting the PACE program. Dr. Sears cites multiple scientific studies proving that short bursts of intense exercise are best for restoring more youthful lung capacity, lowering cardiovascular risk, and reducing body fat while building muscle. But one of my favorites is Dr. Sears? very own ?identical twin study.?

In this study, Dr. Sears instructed one of the 18-year old women to follow the PACE program, while the other did traditional ?cardio? exercise. The ?cardio? twin ran up to 10 miles a day, while the ?PACE? twin sprinted 50 yards as fast as she could, rested, and repeated the cycle six times.

Although the twins had the same lean body mass and body fat (24.5 percent) at the beginning of their programs, after 16 weeks, the PACE twin’s body fat decreased to just 10 percent, and she gained 9 pounds of muscle. The ?cardio? exercise twin’s body fat decreased to 19.5 percent, but she actually lost 2 pounds of muscle.

Less time, more benefits

The PACE program also has other health benefits?particularly when it comes to one of the most widespread conditions in this country, metabolic syndrome.

You?ve read about this condition in these pages before and how it comes about as a result of insulin resistance and is characterized by excess weight, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and high blood pressure (or any combination of these symptoms). If it goes uncorrected, metabolic syndrome ultimately leads to high blood sugar, at which point it’s diagnosed as full-blown type 2 diabetes. Exercise is an important part of correcting metabolic syndrome, but recommendations for how much and what sort of exercise have been quite variable.

But in his new book, Dr. Sears cites research specifically on this topic, in which 32 individuals diagnosed with metabolic syndrome did either continuous moderate exercise (CME), or a version of intense exercise called aerobic interval training (AIT) three times a week for 16 weeks. (There was also a control group that did no exercise during the study period.)

By the end of the study, the patients in the AIT group had significantly increased their lung function by as much as 36 percent. The CME group, on the other hand, had increased theirs by only 16 percent. The AIT also appeared to eliminate more metabolic syndrome risk factors that CME. AIT was superior to CME in improving insulin signaling in fat and skeletal muscle and in reducing blood glucose and fat formation.

Based on these results, the researchers concluded ??high-intensity exercise training is superior to moderate-intensity training in reversing risk factors of the metabolic syndrome.?

Dr. Sears? PACE program is even higher intensity than the ?AIT? program used in the study above. So it’s very likely that it will do even better than AIT to lessen or eliminate the symptoms of metabolic syndrome.

As Dr. Sears carefully explains in his book, it’s actually important to ?go past? aerobic exercise into the ?anaerobic? phase in order to achieve the most benefits?improving lung and cardiovascular function, building muscle, and reducing body fat. Going into the anaerobic phase of exercise actually helps ?reset? human metabolism in a way aerobic exercise can’t. The PACE program is designed to bring about this anaerobic phase of exercise.

And while it is very high intensity, keep in mind that the entire workout only lasts 12 minutes. That means you get significantly more muscle, significantly less body fat?.not to mention lower cardiovascular risk, increased lung capacity, and the ability to improve or eliminate metabolic syndrome (if you have it)? in a fraction of the time you?d spend doing a traditional jogging and weight-lifting program.

When you look at it that way, copying Nature with the PACE program is a no-brainer.

You can find Dr. Sears? new book, PACE: The 12-Minute Fitness Revolution through Dr. Sears? website,, as well as other on-line sources.

exerpted from