The 12-3-30 routine claims to combine two elements of fitness—cardio and muscle toning (from incline walking), according to Simon—plus it contributes to weekly exercise quotas. This combination can lead to several health and wellness benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, weight loss and improved mood, according to Dr. Prestipino.
It reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases
Research shows that walking on an incline, which mimics walking uphill, not only burns more calories than walking on a flat level (due to higher energy demands), but can also increase your heart rate and help maintain healthy blood pressure.
Regular exercise plays an important role in maintaining a healthy heart and helps protect against chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease (CVD). Without balancing sedentary moments with movement throughout the day, you’re at a higher risk of developing CVD, type 2 diabetes, and weight problems, says Dr. Prestipino. The 12-3-30 workout is one way to incorporate movement into your day, potentially contributing to improved heart health as well as maintaining a healthy body weight.
Tones the muscles
The muscles of the human body consist of two types of fibers: slow-twitch and fast-twitch. While fast-twitch muscle fibers tire easily (think high intensity, short duration), slow-twitch muscle fibers contribute to endurance (think low intensity, long duration) because they don’t tire as quickly. The 12-3-30 workout focuses on these slow-twitch muscle fibers that can be activated by prolonged aerobic exercise.
Adding an incline to a workout can help reap some muscle-building benefits, especially for those people who are new to exercises that challenge their muscles to work hard, Simon says. “The incline puts your posterior chain—glutes, hamstrings, lower back, and calf muscles—to work, which improves lower-body strength and challenges your overall balance,” she adds.
Exercise is only one aspect of effectively developing stronger muscles, and additional factors such as adequate protein intake and adequate rest are also important when it comes to building muscle.
Promotes fat loss
For US adults, the optimal physical activity goal is 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity along with two strength-training activities per week, according to guidelines set by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC ). Maintaining 60% to 70% of your maximum heart rate (based on the highest number your heart should be beating during exercise) keeps you in the fat-burning zone, according to Simon. To estimate your highest heart rate, subtract your age from 220 to determine your maximum beats per minute, according to the CDC. One sign that your heart rate is in the 60% to 70% zone during the 12-3-30 workout is that you can carry on a conversation without much effort. Repeating exercise over time, along with lifestyle changes, including a balanced diet, can help shed excess body fat and improve endurance, according to Simon.
It can improve mood
Regular exercise, including the 12-3-30 workout, not only has the power to improve gloomy moods, but also has an effect on people with certain mental illnesses, such as depression, according to research. Many scientific studies point to the positive impact of feel-good endorphins (which flood the brain during exercise) on your emotional state, mood, attention and even social interactions.
If you are concerned about your mental health or emotional state, always consult a qualified health care provider.
Simplicity of training
Aside from its physical benefits, the 12-3-30 workout is quick, effective and only requires access to a treadmill, whether at the gym or at home, says Dr. Prestipino. It’s also considered a low-impact workout, meaning it doesn’t involve jumping, running or twisting movements and is gentler on lower-extremity joints like the hips and knees, according to Dr. Prestipino. Low-impact workouts, especially on flat terrain like a treadmill, also help reduce your chance of injury, she adds.