High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

A new trend is on the rise in the world of exercise fitness and that is High-Intensity Interval Training or HIIT for short. The popularity is largely due to the flexibility of the program though it has been seen to provide many other benefits as well.

What is it?

HIIT involve doing bouts of intense work periods followed by an equal time of recovery. Typically exercises are performed at 80-95% of a person’s estimated maximum heart rate anywhere from 5 seconds to 8 minutes long. The recovery periods can then involve doing the same or similar workout but at an intensity of 40-50% of the estimated maximum heart rate. A workout can last somewhere between 20-60 minutes.

What are the benefits?

HIIT training has been shown to help improve:

  • Heart and Lung health
  • Blood pressure
  • Insulin sensitivity
  • Cholesterol
  • Body weight and body composition

Why is it trending?

The number one benefit of HIIT over other exercise programs is that it can be easily modified for people of all ages, fitness levels, and those with conditions such as diabetes. HIIT workouts also work great with all types of exercise whether you prefer cycling, running on treadmill, or going to group exercise classes. Another big plus to HIIT workouts is that they have been found to burn more calories than traditional workouts would. This is partially due to the post exercise period where the body is using additional calories to restore itself to pre-exercise levels. The high intensity nature of HIIT workouts leads to larger energy demands during this post exercise period which means more calories burned.

Are there Safety Concerns?

Someone who has a sedentary lifestyle, family history risk, is a smoker, or has conditions such as diabetes or hypertension may be at an increased risk of coronary disease with high intensity exercise. Because of this, it is very important to talk to your physician and make sure you are clear to start a new exercise program. It is also important to modify the intensities to your own abilities and try to gradually increase at a pace that feels comfortable to you.

For more information and ideas on how to start HIIT view the brochure by the American College of Sports Medicine.

Reprinted with permission of the American College of Sports Medicine. Copyright © 2014 American College of Sports Medicine.


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