Benefits of High Intensity Interval Training
Disclaimer: I am not a physician or a personal trainer but merely a person with a passion for exercise (along with being a registered dietitian and diabetes educator). With all that being said, I hope you're still with me and will continue to read the remainder of this article.
High intensity interval training (HIIT) is a form of exercise that has been gaining in popularity and interest within various communities from researchers to individuals looking to try something new.
What is high intensity interval training (HIIT)?
HIIT is defined as “near maximal efforts generally performed at an intensity that elicits > 80% of maximal heart rate.”1 High intensity efforts are then followed by periods of recovery.
(Simplified calculation for estimating your maximum heart rate: 220 minus your age in years)
Why are some finding this form of exercise (HIIT) more appealing than more traditional forms of exercise?
- Time: HIIT training generally requires less time to achieve the same benefits as moderate intensity continuous training.2
- Individualized: Achieving > 80% of maximal heart rate will look different depending on the individual. For example, a healthy well-trained individual may need to sprint on a treadmill to achieve > 80% of their maximal heart rate, while a person that has been relatively sedentary may need to walk on a treadmill at a slight incline to achieve > 80% of their maximal heart rate. Either way, both individuals are achieving many of same benefits. 3
What is the research saying about the benefits of HIIT?
- Improved cardiorespiratory fitness (the ability of your body to transport oxygen and use oxygen during exercise)3
- Improved endothelial function (“endothelial dysfunction has been shown to be of significance in predicting stroke and heart attacks due to the inability of the arteries to dilate fully”)4
- Improved insulin sensitivity and glucose control
- Improved blood pressure
- Reduced abdominal fat
- Increased lower-body muscle mass
- Improved A1c
- Improved appetite regulation5
Before getting started with HIIT
- First speak with your physician. Your physician may want you to complete a pre-exercise screening before starting a new exercise routine.3 This is especially important if you have any chronic complications related to your diabetes or take a medication that increases the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
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