High-Intensity Interval TrainingMarch 6, 2014 Written by JP [Font too small?]
Last week, a column in the New York Times entitled, “How to Get Fit in a Few Minutes a Week” garnered quite a lot of attention. The idea of achieving physical fitness in such little time is appealing to just about everyone, myself included. But, is this claim supported by real science? Or is this a case of: “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is?”
The simple answer is yes and no. You can get fitter, faster by employing an efficient form of exercise known as high-intensity interval training or HIIT. Though it will take slightly longer than a few minutes. The NY Times piece focuses on a few studies that reveal that exercising for less than 10 minutes, three-times weekly can lead to more pronounced improvements in physical fitness than more frequent and/or longer bouts of aerobic exercise. The latest research suggests that 4 sets of full effort, “push yourself to the limit” exercise interspersed with 4 sets of gentle recovery exercise, about every other day, is all you need. This can be accomplished on an elliptical machine, a stationary bike or a treadmill.
Besides saving time, HIIT also influences various health markers more profoundly than longer lasting forms of exercise. One study, appearing in the February 2014 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, reports that HIIT improves cardiac autonomic function more so than aerobic endurance training. This noted effect could be invaluable to those with heart rate irregularities such as atrial fibrillation. Likewise, interval training promotes far greater oxygen uptake than continuous training. This compensates for cardiopulmonary changes that typically accompany aging in the lungs. Finally, two recent trials reveal that HIIT is tops when it comes to supporting healthier blood pressure, blood sugar and oxidative status. In short, HIIT is a powerful tool for slowing the aging process and staying healthy along the way.
Whether you already practice HIIT or plan to start, take note of two current findings that can influence the lasting success of your exercise routine. High-intensity, interval training is great in many ways. However, it may not make you feel great immediately. The November 2013 edition of PLos One, examined the psychological feelings induced by continuous and high-intensity training sessions. Participants in the HIIT phase of the study reported more negative feelings than in the continuous phase. This can be overcome by reminding yourself of the distinct benefits that you’ll reap, both physiologically and in terms of time savings. Another recent experiment informs that the “gentle” stages of HIIT are vitally important. Some athletes take a passive, restful approach to the periods in between the intense segments of exercise. This is a mistake! Remaining active in the gentle stages has been shown to stimulate a hormonal environment that encourages muscle building and recovery. So, slow down, but don’t completely stop during the gentler intervals.
Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!
To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:
Study 1 – Is High-Intensity Interval Training a Time-Efficient Exercise Strategy to … (link)
Study 2 – Intermittent and Continuous High-Intensity Exercise Induce Similar … (link)
Study 3 – Effect of 24 Sessions of High-Intensity Aerobic Interval Training Carried … (link)
Study 4 – Effect of Traditional Aerobic Exercises Versus Sprint Interval Training on … (link)
Study 5 – Cardiac Autonomic Function and High-Intensity Interval Training in … (link)
Study 6 – Low-Volume High-Intensity Interval Training Rapidly Improves … (link)
Study 7 – Continuous vs Interval Training on Glycemic Control and Macro- … (link)
Study 8 – Effect of High-Intensity Interval Training Versus Moderate Continuous … (link)
Study 9 – Continuous and High-Intensity Interval Training: Which Promotes … (link)
Study 10 – Active vs. Passive Recovery During High-intensity Training Influences … (link)
Moderate vs. High Frequency HIIT on Maximal Oxygen Uptake (VO2max)
Source: PLoS One. 2014 Feb 7;9(2):e88375. (link)
Tags: aging, Diabetes, High Blood Pressure
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Exercise, Heart Health