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Short on Time? Try a High Intensity Workout

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Get a Great Workout in Less Time

Finding time to workout is a common struggle for people. The Centers for Disease Control recommends 150 minutes of exercise a week, which is about 20 minutes a day. However, if you participate in high intensity exercise you only need about 75 minutes a week. That’s great news for your schedule, but high intensity exercise may have other benefits besides saving time.

Up the Intensity

Some activities like tennis or soccer count as high intensity exercise. High intensity interval training (HIIT) offers the benefits of a high intensity workout, but you can modify an activity you like to fit your time and space needs. During HIIT you alternate bursts of full effort intense activity with a low-intensity activity or rest. For example, running as fast as you can for 1 minute and then walking for 2 minutes.

“You can turn lots of activities into high intensity interval training,” said Brady Vernon, ACE-CPT, a health and fitness specialist at SamFit. “For someone who is used to walking, jogging for one minute will feel like high intensity but the goal is to completely max yourself out in that short window.”

Health Benefits

It’s not just a convenient timesaver; HIIT has other health benefits. A meta-analysis of studies published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that HIIT improved cardiorespiratory fitness of the heart and lungs in people with chronic conditions like heart failure, hypertension, metabolic syndrome and obesity.

A study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that HIIT is helpful with glucose control, while research published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that participants burned more calories during HIIT than during the same amount of time doing endurance exercise.

“There are a lot of benefits to HIIT, and it can also be more fun than doing the same thing every time,” said Vernon. “When you look forward to exercise you are more likely to do it.”

How to Start

First, check with your doctor that it’s safe for you to participate in high intensity exercise. If you can’t, there are modified versions that a professional can help you plan out.

Once you get the go ahead, Vernon recommends trying running, jumping rope, lunges, high knees, cycling or burpees anything that gets your heart pumping and lungs burning. Your ratio of intensity to rest should be 1:2, so if you run for 30 seconds, rest for 60 seconds. Work your way up to 90 seconds of intense activity and 3 minutes of rest. A 15-minute workout will probably be plenty to start. Once you get in the groove, a 20 to 45-minute workout is normal, but remember to keep pushing yourself during the intensity periods.

“If you’re trying to conserve energy like you would during endurance training then you lose the value of HIIT,” said Vernon. “The key is to push yourself to your limit every time.”

Exercise is important, if a high intensity workout doesn’t sound right for you, check out other exercise ideas to get motivated in 2020!

Or get help setting up your perfect workout at your local SamFit.