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Sheltering Arms Blog

What is High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)?


Posted on: July 8, 2019 by Jenny Lankford

By: Jennifer Prugh, PT, DPT

Everyone knows that it is important to exercise and that not exercising can lead to negative health consequences. The World Health Organization recommends adults should participate in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity each week. However, most people do not participate in the recommended amount of exercise each week because of busy schedules and limited time.

A shorter, more efficient routine could be an appealing solution to get more exercise and is likely why high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts have become so popular. HIIT is a method of exercise training where you alternate short intervals of effort with active rest periods for 10-30 minutes. These workouts can provide incredible health results in a short amount of time.

A recent study by researchers at McMaster University looked at sedentary men and compared a group that, three times a week, performed a 10-minute interval training cycling workout with a group that performed 50 minutes of continuous cycling. The study concluded that 30 minutes of interval training a week had the same health benefits as 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity.

Health benefits of HIIT include:
• Improved cardiovascular fitness
• Reduced resting blood pressure and heart rate
• Increased metabolism after exercise resulting in more calories burned
• Reduced blood sugar
• Increase in muscle mass
• Reduced body fat and waist circumference

Here is an example of a 10-minute cycling or walking HIIT workout that you can try:
• Warm-up: 2 minutes of easy walking or cycling
• Work interval: 20 seconds of vigorous walking or cycling
• Rest interval: 2 minutes of low intensity walking or cycling
• Repeat: work and rest intervals 3 times
• Cool down: 3 minutes of easy walking or cycling

HIIT workouts can be modified for any activity level, but the key is to start at a level that you can handle and slowly build up to a higher intensity. For example, walking can progress to running or the number of intervals can be increased.

As with any new exercise routine, it’s important not to push yourself too hard or ignore your body’s signals to slow down. It is also important to warm up, cool down, and incorporate stretching and strengthening exercises into your routine.

If you are new to exercise, consult your doctor before beginning a new routine. If you have any injuries, the physical therapists and fitness professionals at Sheltering Arms can help you safely begin a new exercise program. Click here to learn more about our fitness services.