Many people often don’t exercise much because of a busy schedule. With work, kids, chores, errands and other responsibilities, it can be difficult to find a block of time to devote to working out. If you have a limited amount of free time, short bursts of exercise may be beneficial.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) typically involves 30- to 60-second periods of intense physical activity, with shorter rest periods between exercises. It can include a variety of movements that target different muscle groups.
How Can Short Exercise Sessions Improve Your Health?
HIIT training can strengthen your cardiovascular system and improve your aerobic fitness. Brief periods of intense exercise can increase your heart and lungs’ ability to transport oxygen to other parts of the body and lower your blood pressure. That can reduce your risk of developing heart disease. HIIT workouts can also reduce your blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes, high-intensity interval training may help you manage it.
If your goal is to lose weight, high-intensity interval training may be more effective than longer periods of exercise. A HIIT workout can burn about as many calories as a longer, less intense workout, but you may burn more calories after HIIT training than you would after another type of exercise. Following a HIIT session, your body will go through a phase of post-exercise oxygen consumption, when it will burn additional calories to recover from the workout.
High-intensity interval training targets multiple muscle groups. Since exercises are performed at high intensity and rest times are short, your muscles won’t get much of a chance to rest. That can improve your muscle endurance.
What If You Can’t Do HIIT Workouts?
Before you begin any new exercise program, consult your doctor, especially if you have an underlying medical condition or a past injury that could affect your ability to work out safely. HIIT training or another type of exercise may put too much stress on your heart or other parts of your body and put you at risk of injury.
If you don’t have enough time in your busy day for a structured HIIT workout, finding opportunities to incorporate short bursts of intense activity can make a difference in your health. For example, if you sprint to or from your car or run up and down stairs as fast as you can, that can improve your overall fitness. The important thing is to find ways to work physical activity into your routine on a regular basis.