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What is HIIT and how does it benefit your health?

You may have heard about HIIT – that’s high-intensity interval training – or maybe even read it on a class programme at the gym. But what exactly is it, and why is it beneficial for our health? 

­What is HIIT?

HIIT is an intense workout where you repeatedly alternate between short intervals of high-intensity and lower-intensity exercise. The key is to create an equal balance between the high and low-intensity intervals. 

How does it work?

In the high-intensity intervals your main goal is to get your heart rate up by pushing yourself. In the low-intensity intervals the goal is to bring your heart rate back down by dropping to a more comfortable resting pace. During this workout your breathing gets much deeper and more rapid and your heart rate increases quickly.

What are the benefits? 

HIIT has several benefits on your overall fitness and wellbeing. Accessing deeper breathing and increasing your heart rate during a HIIT workout is great for your cardiovascular system. As well as that, the increased breakdown of body fat that occurs during and after a HIIT workout can speed up your metabolism. 

It’s also positive for mental wellbeing. A 10 minute HIIT session releases considerably more endorphins than a regular 10 minute workout does. Endorphins are happy hormones released after exercise that leave us feeling great. Another good thing about HIIT workouts is that they can be short, making them a great way of fitting some exercise in during a busy work day.  

How can I add HIIT into my exercise routine?

A simple way to incorporate HIIT into your exercise plans is with running – alternating between a sprint and a jog. Make your high-intensity intervals a fast paced sprint to get your heart rate up. In your low-intensity intervals you should drop down to a slower, more comfortable pace to get your heart rate back down. If you’re running try dropping to a jog and if you’re jogging drop to a fast-paced walk. 

Repeat the cycle of alternating between intervals of high and low intensity. Keep going for as long as you feel comfortable (but still challenged) and over time you’ll build this up. Eventually you’ll be able to do more intervals, and feel your fitness levels improve. 

If you’re not used to exercising regularly or you have any medical conditions that could impact your health, you should consult a health professional before taking up HIIT. 

Interested in reading more on running? Click here for more articles from Vhi.