The health benefits of regular exercise have been medically proven time and again; yet according to a , just 23 percent of American adults get enough aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercise.
There are several reasons why people don’t commit to regular exercise, ranging from a busy lifestyle to boredom with fixed-pace workouts like long-distance jogging. If you’re looking to get significant results with minimal time commitment, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) may be the perfect fit for you.
What is HIIT?
HIIT is a form of exercise that alternates between intense bursts of activity and fixed periods of less intense activity. Picture doing two minutes of jumping lunges, followed by one minute of plank walk-outs, followed by one minute of push-ups, repeated for three sets.
This style of exercise became popular around the 1990s and dramatically changed the format of workouts and the body shapes of those who use it. Simply put, it’s a great way to burn fat and build muscle in a shorter amount of time.
These workouts take an average of 20 minutes or less, and you can practically do them anywhere with little to no equipment. Some of my favorite exercises to integrate into HIIT workouts are jump squats, butterfly kicks, burpees and wall sits.
The benefits of HIIT
HIIT can make a substantial difference in people who have limited time to exercise or struggle with steady-state exercises that can become mentally tedious.
Most of my clients are people on the go who are working to fit exercise into their business and personal schedules. Not only do time-efficient HIIT programs help with life balance, but they also have the power to burn more calories — especially post-workout — when compared to a fixed-pace exercise.
In addition to being time-efficient, HIIT participants enjoy a constantly changing program that provides a full-body workout. The continuous moving and changing between exercises stimulates the brain and keeps the workout fresh and exciting.
HIIT has also been linked to improving mental health. A published in the journal Neuroscience Letters linked high-intensity exercise to improvements in cognitive functioning. A team of also suggested that HIIT may help reverse signs of aging on a cellular level.
How to get started
Perhaps the best aspect of HIIT is its versatility. Most people can find time to squeeze a 15-minute workout into their day. You can find a variety of suggested HIIT programs online, but it is always best to consult with a trainer who can help you perform the exercises correctly to avoid injury.
The most important thing is to start moving — once you begin feeling the benefits of regular exercise, you won’t want to stop.
Nemiah Rutledge is the founder and owner of Body Paradox, a Jacksonville-based fitness company that provides corporate and personal fitness training. For more information on his exercise programs and philosophy, visit BodyParadox.com.