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Try Something New: HIIT Fitness

May 20, 2020

High intensity interval training (HIIT) is a training system of high-intensity cardio intervals interspersed by active recovery intervals.

“High intensity” is relative and is based on your own abilities.

On a scale of 1-10 of perceived intensity (1 being no effort, 10 being highest intensity that you can imagine), high intensity would fall at a level 7 or above. For anyone who is familiar with using maximum heart rate as a guide, “high intensity” is above 80% of max heart rate.  During HIIT, intervals typically last between 30 seconds and 2 minutes.

One of the great things about HIIT is that it is incredibly variable and highly modifiable!  These workouts can be done outside or inside, with or without equipment, alone or in a group.

Health Benefits of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Workouts

These workouts can also be relatively short compared to other forms of training to still get incredible health benefits.  One of the great benefits is that HIIT can help the body become more efficient with producing and using anaerobic energy during periods of high intensity and more effective at removing waste products from muscles during lower intensity intervals.

A study at Mayo Clinic in people over age 65 found that HIIT helped reverse some age-related muscle cell deterioration. It also triggered growth of new muscle. These results were more pronounced in the older study group when compared to a group comprised of people under age 30.  Mayo researchers had participates assigned to the HIIT group alternate between 3 minutes of fast walking and 3 minutes of slow walking for 30 minutes or more on 4 days per week. In another group, participates who walked twice as long at a moderate pace made minimal gains in fitness or other measures, similar to the comparison group who did not exercise at all.

Although HIIT may be the training that you’ve always wanted, it should not be done more than a couple of times per week with at least 1 day of recovery between HIIT days. This will help facilitate recovery and prevent overuse injury, particularly if you perform the same types of exercises during each HIIT workout.

Try an HIIT Program Today!

Want to try HIIT workouts for yourself? Once you have your care provider’s approval, begin a similar walking program as described above or look for resources in the community.  There are many HIIT programs locally.

Are you already a member of a gym? Many area gyms offer a HIIT program, often for no additional charge. Looking for an app?

Some highly ranked HIIT apps include:

These are just a few examples, but there are many more HIIT workout options available.

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About Stacy Kropp, MPAP, MPH, PA-C, RD, LDN

Stacy Kropp is a certified physician assistant who specializes in surgical weight loss, nutrition, and wellness. Before attending physician assistant school, she practiced as a registered dietitian helping people improve their health through nutrition.

Stacy joined the WakeMed Physician Practices General Surgery team in 2017 and continued working to improve the health and wellness of patients as a physician assistant. With the WakeMed Bariatric Surgery and Medical Weight Loss team, she is focused on helping patients prevent, slow, and/or reverse weight-related medical problems.