When it comes to exercise, what’s your excuse? Whether it’s lack of time, money or motivation – sometimes the lure of the sofa can just be too strong – it can be all too easy to put off that run for another day. But whatever your reason, it’s still recommended that adults aged between 19 and 64 should be getting at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise a week. This roughly works out at about half an hour of brisk walking or cycling five times a week.
While this doesn’t sound like a lot of exercise in the grand scheme of things, research shows that you could actually do even less exercise and still maintain a good level of fitness – with the use of high intensity interval training (HIIT).
Watch: Fitness guru Natalie Carter shares her tips for overcoming exercise burnout and finding motivation. Post continues after video.
A typical HIIT session involves doing multiple intervals, or bursts of relatively short, intense exercise separated by rest or light exercise, and can last anywhere between a few minutes, right up to half an hour. It tends to involve many forms of exercise such as cycling, running or even resistance based training. All of which can be completed in a typical gym or health club setting.
Although high intensity interval training has been around for a while, it is receiving increased attention from researchers. This is because of its “time efficient” approach and the many health benefits it can offer such as increased cardiovascular fitness, lower blood pressure and improved blood results like “glucose tolerance” – how the body deals with sugar throughout the day and “good” cholesterol.
You can complete the HIIT workout at your gym. Image: iStock.
The downside of the typical HIIT programme is the intensity of the exercise – HIIT sessions usually involve “maximal sprints” – such as running or cycling as fast as you can, for 30 seconds. These sprints can be tough to complete especially for a lesser trained participant. This means that although HIIT is effective at improving fitness, lots of people are put off actually doing it because of the intense levels of exercise required.
A different approach
This is why at the University of Hull we have developed a modified HIIT programme which offers the important health benefits often associated with prolonged exercise, while saving time and being easier to complete. In our research, we used lower intensity, longer intervals for the protocol – which are different to the short, very intense intervals of traditional HIIT.