High-Intensity Interval Training Improves Physical and Mental Health Outcomes

High-Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, has become increasingly popular in the last decade, and many are turning to it as an efficient, effective means of being physically active while at home. A study published in the Journal of Sports Sciences analyzed the available data on the safety, efficacy, and adherence for HIIT across populations, including people with health conditions. The research included 33 systematic reviews, 25 with meta-analyses. [IHRSA}

HIIT workouts are made up of explosive, full-body movements, such as kettle bell swings or tire flips, intended to increase your heart rate, get your system firing on all cylinders, and use up so much energy that your body experiences something called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC.  

People tend to gravitate toward HIIT workouts because they burn more calories than steady state cardio and generate a bigger EPOC, or afterburn effect. In fact, you’ll burn extra calories for up to 48 hours after a HIIT workout, and by combining aerobic exercise with resistance training, you’ll burn up to 30 percent more calories than you would by doing either type of exercise on its own, according to a study by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

The results of the HIIT study showed that, compared to inactive control groups, HIIT improved aerobic fitness, body composition, blood glucose, vascular and cardiovascular function, certain inflammatory markers, exercise capacity, and muscle mass. Compared to other active people not doing HIIT, it improved aerobic fitness, certain inflammatory markers, and muscle structure. Improvements in anxiety and depression were observed compared to baseline. The groups who participated in HIIT reported no acute injuries, and adherence to HIIT interventions was around 80% on average in most reviews.

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