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‘HIIT’ it out of the park – Why high intensity interval training might be exactly what you need to add to your exercise program.

 

If you’ve been paying attention to the health, and more specifically exercise world, you have probably come across the term high intensity interval training (HIIT). Odds are, you thought one of three things:

1. “That sounds perfect for me and I would love to try.”
2. “That sounds too difficult for me to manage with my current health status.”
3. “I don’t really care about that, it’s probably just another fad.”

Regardless of which category you fit into, let’s explore why HIIT might be the missing piece in your exercise program!

Economic exercise

HIIT is a form of cardiovascular exercise which involves performance of alternating periods of high intensity exercise, with lower intensity recovery periods. One of the biggest drawcards to HIIT is the potential time savings that you could unlock, compared to the benefits that could be derived from a more traditional moderate intensity training session. Whilst the ‘gold standard’ approach to HIIT takes approximately 40 minutes to complete, this is not the only way to approach this form of training. It can also be performed at a smaller scale, like when you walk on a treadmill, use a rowing machine, or ride a bike in the clinic. Five minutes on any of these pieces of equipment can easily be translated to HIIT.

Backed by research

Recent HIIT research has demonstrated superior benefits to moderate intensity training when it comes to improving cardiorespiratory fitness and metabolic factors including blood pressure, body composition, and insulin sensitivity. For example, one group of participants with metabolic disease were able to improve their cardio-respiratory fitness by 35% in 16 weeks (Tjonna et al, 2008), whilst another group of hypertensive participants achieved significant reductions in blood pressure following the implementation of HIIT (Leal et al, 2020). As you can see, HIIT appears to be an effective means of improving a number of different facets of your health.

Is it safe?

You might be concerned about the safety of HIIT due to the increased intensity and therefore demand to perform this modality of exercise. The good news is that, following appropriate screening from your health care team, HIIT appears to be a safe and suitable option for most individuals including chronic disease patients. In fact, the absolute intensity of HIIT might reflect a number of activities of daily living such as climbing a flight of stairs or walking up an incline.

If you are interested in finding out more about HIIT and would like to see if you would be suitable to incorporate it into your exercise program, please speak to one of our exercise physiologists and they can provide you with all of the necessary information and advice as to how you can start with HIIT today.

 

Benny Noon
Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP)

 

Further Reading:

Aerobic interval training versus continuous moderate exercise as a treatment for the metabolic syndrome: a pilot study

Cardiorespiratory fitness and body composition responses to different intensities and frequencies of exercise training in colorectal cancer survivors