Desk jobs and a sedentary lifestyle have made people inactive, leading to a variety of health concerns, such as weight gain and incorrect posture. Besides consuming healthy food and avoiding addictive substances, physical activity is crucial for staying fit.
High-Intensity Interval Training, commonly known as HIIT, comprises short bursts of intense workouts followed by low-intensity exercises. A basic example is that of jogging at a moderate pace for 15 minutes, followed by running at a high pace for 5 minutes. Followed by another 15 minutes of jogging at a moderate pace, this repetition may be continued 4-6 times for a high-calorie burn HIIT workout.
How does HIIT help burn calories?
One may wonder how HIIT burns more calories than sprinting for 30 minutes. This is because the short burst of high-intensity exercise triggers a phenomenon known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC. EPOC results in the burning of extra calories as your muscles use the energy to recover from the high-intensity exercise.
Continuous high-intensity exercise without breaks can cause wear and tear in your muscles. Muscles use more energy to repair themselves than to gain mass. Prolonged periods of high-intensity exercise also create hunger pangs after the workout, which isn’t beneficial if you’re trying to lose weight.
If you’re someone who wants to shed some extra weight and stay healthy but can’t find time to go to the gym regularly, then a calorie-deficient diet paired with HIIT workouts can give you good results in a short period. You can check the calories of each item you consume throughout the day with websites like caloriedetails.com, which is an extensive database of food items and the calories they contain. They also give details of the amount of macro and micronutrients in the food item so that you can avoid high carbohydrate and high sodium foods.
We will now discuss the benefits of including HIIT workouts in your fitness training.
- HIIT helps you develop stamina
HIIT workouts allow the body to adapt to the short spell of low oxygen and high activity as it is under a lot of stress. The heart pumps more blood toward the lungs, the brain, and the muscles as they require more energy to function during HIIT workouts. Over time you will notice an improvement in the duration of your high-intensity workout as you have developed your stamina for physical exercise.
- HIIT helps you burn more calories
A study conducted in 2019 compared the metabolic rates of athletes after performing a HIIT workout versus a low-intensity exercise. It concluded that after 9 minutes of stopping exercise, athletes who performed HIIT workouts were burning more calories per minute as compared to the athletes who performed low-intensity exercises.
This is because the short spell of high-intensity workouts causes fats to be used as an energy source for the repair and growth of muscles. This facilitates the total weight loss process and helps you lose extra fat in difficult areas such as your tummy and thighs.
- HIIT can improve heart health
During steady exercise, muscles continue to use the inhaled oxygen to burn glucose and gain energy. During HIIT, the heart needs to pump blood more efficiently to supply the low oxygen to the muscles as they’re under stress during the workout. Muscles then burn glucose in the absence of oxygen (termed anaerobically) to create energy. This anaerobic environment allows the heart to develop endurance to high-intensity exercises over time, leading to improved efficiency in pumping blood to vital organs.
- HIIT improves metabolism
Exercise serves as a stimulus for the release of multiple hormones from the body, such as growth hormones, testosterone, and steroids.
A study was conducted on the effect of the duration of high-intensity exercises on the release of growth hormones. The results concluded that growth hormone levels were elevated for one hour after a 6-second high-intensity exercise. In comparison, participants who performed high-intensity exercise for 30 seconds showed elevated growth hormone levels for up to 2 hours.
Growth hormone is a potent stimulator of metabolic processes in the body, helping you burn calories and gain energy at a higher efficiency than without exercise.
- HIIT helps you gain muscle mass
A typical HIIT session will have you using different muscle compartments of the body during one workout—these can include squats, push-ups, burpees, and jumping jacks. The high intensity and quick changes between exercises will help you gain muscle mass in areas that are under the most stress during the workout, such as your chest and legs.
HIIT workouts also increase the endurance of the muscle groups to exercise, allowing you to increase the time spent in exercise without losing your breath quickly. They also help you shed extra fat, giving you a lean, athletic build.
- HIIT can improve mental health
Regular exercise can do wonders for your mental health, as it is a stimulant for the release of endorphins, which are also called the feel-good hormones of the body. Endorphins are responsible for giving you that feeling of accomplishment after a workout (“runner’s high).
A comprehensive review of the effects of HIIT on the mental health of the sick and healthy population reported improvement in the well-being of the general population, particularly in those weighed down with depression and undue anxiety.
Leading a good successful life requires one to be in tune with their inner self. An essential component of self-knowledge is developing healthy habits. Mindfully choosing what foods to consume, getting enough sleep, maintaining a work-life balance, and indulging in physical activity are all lifestyle choices that can shape your future as a healthy, productive member of society.
Physical activity, such as HIIT, and active sports like tennis and basketball, improve vital body functions like breathing and metabolism and improve overall health. It also improves your mental outlook, away from the stress of college or work. Including a workout in your daily activity will allow you to take out some time for yourself and help you connect with nature as well as other people around you.