The Facts: High Intensity Interval Training

There are many different forms of exercise and recommended workouts. Let’s be honest, it can be difficult to decide what type of exercise is best for your health and fitness. Continual articles in the media with mixed messages don’t make it any easier! All the rage at the moment is high intensity interval training. Heard of it? We are not surprised! We are here to give you the facts and explain exactly what it involves. High intensity interval training or HIIT involves high intensity exercise for short periods of time interspersed with low intensity exercise for a longer period of time. Usually the workouts are performed while running or on a stationary bike with resistance. HIIT promises improved fitness and weight management by doing short sharp workouts. However, sometimes the shortest path is not always the best. A recent study at the University of Sydney found that in an overweight population, performing HIIT (20 minutes including warm up and warm down) did not actually decrease abdominal fat whereas doing continuous moderate intensity exercise (30-45 minutes) did. Interestingly, both types of exercise had similar increases in overall fitness. These findings highlight the need to be aware of what you are trying to achieve when designing the best workout for you. If your goal is to decrease weight and improve body composition (i.e. maintain muscle) the most appropriate workout is continuous moderate intensity exercise along with resistance training. While, HIIT may increase your fitness with shorter workouts, it will not assist you lose body fat. Continuous moderate intensity exercise can be performed in many different ways: walking, jogging, running, cycling, or swimming. Apart from the warm up and warm down this exercise should be performed at a set intensity for a prolonged period of time. That’s longer than 15 minutes everybody! You need your body to work for an extended period of time so it can work aerobically and burn fat as its primary fuel source. We know this type of exercise can become monotonous and it doesn’t always give you the same immediate satisfaction and high that HIIT can! Here are a few ideas to help you get through your workout without always watching the clock:

  • Exercise with a friend or walking group
  • Listen to music, an audio book, or podcast
  • If you are on a treadmill then try watching TV or reading using a tablet
  • Exercise when you are feeling stressed – not only will you be able to work over the issues that are stressing you but you will naturally feel better (mentally and physically) after exercise

For a fun and social way to exercise, why not try our free Wesley Walking Group over Winter! The group meets every Tuesday and Thursday at 6am with Wesley LifeShape staff for a friendly walk to start the day.

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