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Should You Try High Intensity Interval Training?

November 17th, 2014

Learn about the 5 surprising health benefits of short bursts of high-intensity exercise.

High intensity interval training, or HIIT, has been getting some media attention lately following new research on the decades-old training technique. Here are 5 health benefits that you can reap by incorporating short bursts of intense effort into your workout routine.

Improved Heart Health

High-intensity exercise helps the blood vessels and arteries to become more elastic so that blood and oxygen can flow more easily. According to a study from McMaster University, individuals who did workouts consisting of 30-second sprints followed by short rests three days a week saw as much improvement in this area as those who did 40 to 60 minutes of continuous cardio.

Lower Blood Pressure

Bouts of intense effort also help to improve blood pressure. In one study from Abertay University in Scotland, participants reduced their blood pressure an average of 9 percent after working up to 10 sprint-rest cycles per workout on a stationary bike. The participants, all of whom were over 60, “sprinted” or pedaled for all they were worth for 6 seconds, then rested for 60.

More Energy

In the same Scottish study, the participants reported that they felt more active in general after adopting the high intensity exercise program. They said they were more likely to take longer walks or walk up hills they used to avoid.

Lower Diabetes Risk

In another study from Abertay, overweight people who were at risk for diabetes were able to improve their ability to clear glucose from their bloodstream after adopting a HIIT workout. Researchers in Norway also found that HIIT could improve risk factors for diabetes and heart disease in a study involving individuals aged 50+with metabolic syndrome (a collection of symptoms often preceding diabetes). After doing a high-intensity treadmill workout for 16 weeks, 46 percent of the participants no longer qualified as having metabolic syndrome, while only 37 percent of participants who did a longer continuous workout saw a similar result.

Lower Body Fat

Excess body fat, especially the visceral fat that surrounds internal organs, can present significant health risks. Researchers from the University of New South Wales in Australia found that women enjoyed a significant reduction in total body fat and particularly in fat on the legs and trunk after adopting a HIIT program for 15 weeks.

How to Incorporate HIIT

There is no “right” way to do HIIT; but there are many suggestions out there as to what types of high intensity exercises you may want to try, how many bursts to include per workout, etc. To start, you can simply push yourself harder for short bursts during your normal routine. For example, if you walk for exercise, start doing bursts of powerwalking, and if you jog, do bursts of sprinting. It is important to work up the intensity slowly to avoid injury, and don’t neglect to continue to do the cardio and strength training needed to maintain good overall physical fitness. If you would like suggestions as to how to incorporate HIIT into your healthy aging exercise plan, please contact Renew Woman™ about virtual personal training.

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