In recent years, one of the most popular trends in fitness training has been High-Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, for short. (1)
HIIT is a 100% effort training technique through rapid, intensive exercise bursts accompanied by brief, but at times active, periods of recovery. The total training session is usually between 15-30 minutes, keeping the heart rate high and burning more fat in less time.
Although the concept is not new, HIIT was ranked No.2 in the top 20 Worldwide Fitness Trends for 2020,and can be used as an alternative fitness regime for those with limited amounts of time to exercise. (2)
New Study HIITs The Spot
While HIIT has become one of the most popular trends in the world of exercise, researchers citing years of analysis have now found that shorter variations of HIIT, as little as 4 mins, 3 times a week for 12 weeks, can have significant health benefits and are comparable to 45-min of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise.
The results concluded:
‘Low-volume HIIT strategy involving 12 min of weekly high-intensity aerobic exercise may improve liver fat, glycemia, and cardiorespiratory fitness in people with type 2 diabetes in the absence of weight loss.’ (3)
It also highlighted the benefits HIIT can have on arterial health and heart function through increased blood circulation.
Health Rewards Of Exercise And HIIT
It is well known that regular exercise is good for our health and wellbeing, including both physical and mental health. Currently, The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 150-300 minutes of moderate activity per week, or 75-100 minutes of vigorous activity per week (for adults aged 18-64 or people living with a chronic condition such as hypertension or type 2 diabetes). (4)
With a high-intensity interval training program (HIIT), health benefits can be obtained in minimal time, reaping similar results.
Some of the benefits of HIIT include:
- Weight control: Regular exercise helps burn excess calories; controlling weight and fighting against obesity. One study reveals HIIT may burn up to 25-30% more calories than other forms of exercise. (5)
- Heart disease: Strengthens the heart and increases blood flow throughout the body, lowering the risk of heart disease.
- Can lower blood sugar levels and may reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes. (6)
- Fights against stress and depression: During exercise the body releases chemicals such as endorphins which can help fight against stress and other mental health conditions.
- May lower blood pressure: Some research suggests HIIT can reduce blood pressure in overweight and obese individuals with high blood pressure as much as longer endurance training. (7)
Tailor Your Needs
Everyone has a type of exercise regime they prefer, whether it’s outdoor hiking, running, or cycling, going to the gym, weight training, or working out at home. The benefits of exercise are universal. For those with very little time, low-volume HIIT is one such regime that can be performed anywhere at almost any time of the day, with similar, or better rewards compared to longer, less intensive fitness programs.
Dr. Angelo Sabag, corresponding author of the study said:
“While the WHO guidelines may serve their purpose at a populational level, individualized and tailored low-volume HIIT interventions delivered by appropriately-trained exercise professionals may be more effective at an individual level, especially for time-poor individuals.
This research is especially important now as people are looking for new and exciting ways to engage in regular exercise, after a year of lower physical activity due to the pandemic.” (8)