Updated: May 13
Cardio…you either love it or you hate it! But cardio does not have to be a daunting task. Cardiovascular exercise is an important key to staying healthy. In the past, I would hit the weights and skip cardio, and that’s relatable for many if it’s not the other way around. However, balancing your fitness entails weights and cardio among other things like mobility and flexibility. Cardio strengthens your heart, reduces the risk of disease, and can lead to weight loss. Still, the idea of running a 5k can be intimidating for many, but long gone are the days when that was the only option. What is HIIT? High-Intensity Interval Training. Just as the name suggests HIIT involves short intense workouts done in intervals. Other than the time-maximizing benefits, let's look at why HIIT should be part of your routine:
1. BURN MORE Calories
Your body can’t really tell the difference between a typical workout and HIIT, all it knows is calories burned. In both cases, you may burn the same amount of calories. The real difference is seen after the workout. Studies have found that you continue to burn calories after you’ve completed HIIT, due to a phenomenon called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). This occurs during the recovery portion of your training, as your body burns more calories to repair itself and move oxygen into its cells.
2. LOSE WEIGHT AND BUILD MUSCLE
Whether it’s steady-state cardio or HIIT, movement is the key to weight loss. As we have seen typically HIIT burns more calories after the training session, resulting in more residual calories lost. Typically HIIT also allows you to increase your heart rate and maintain these levels, which is optimal for burning calories. However, it has been shown that the intensity of HIIT can also result in muscle growth. A HIIT workout may typically involve you doing lunges, burpees, or push-ups, which involve various muscle groups in the workout.
3. IMPROVE THE CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Increasing your heart rate, as is done during a HIIT workout can improve your cardiorespiratory health. As your heart rate increases your lungs and heart have to work hard to move oxygen in and carbon dioxide out, including moving nutrients in the form of glycogen into the muscles. This exchange that happens within our bodies strengthens our cardiorespiratory systems and may help fight against heart disease.
4. LOWER BLOOD SUGAR
Energy comes in the form of glycogen and exercise can put this energy to use. Our bodies are complex mechanisms working to keep us at optimal function. Studies have found that HIIT workouts can help control insulin levels and improve pancreatic function.
5. STIMULATE METABOLISM
HIIT can stimulate your metabolism by increasing the amount of calories you burn at rest, this is your metabolism at work. This activity also allows you to burn fat and energy within a short period of time.
HIIT exercise is a great way to crunch in highly effective and intense workouts in a short amount of time. The involvement of different muscle groups and the residual effect of HIIT, in caloric expenditure makes it a great choice. Not to mention, it can sometimes be more entertaining than getting on a piece of cardio equipment for an hour. Still, the following disclaimer is important: HIIT is not for everyone. If you already suffer from heart conditions, HIIT may not be the option for you. You should always speak to your physician before attempting any workout routine changes. Keep in mind moderation, as consistently prolonged HIIT exercises can cause oxidative stress, which can lead to an onslaught of other issues, and be detrimental to your health. The incorporation of HIIT sessions should typically not exceed 30 minutes, no more than 3 times a week.
Before starting any fitness program or making dietary changes, including supplementation, please consult your physician for a thorough examination.