Beginning an exercise routine is among the more intimidating aspects of taking control of your health. If you have never participated in physical activity, it can be difficult to know where to begin. In some circumstances, it can even be dangerous participating in certain exercises, because you can injure yourself if you do not know what you are doing.
Still, that does not stop some people from trying to jump headlong into exercises which they likely have no business participating in. For all of its hype, high intensity interval training might fall into this category.
High intensity interval training, or HIIT, is a form of exercise that involves intense work outs done in short time periods punctuated by periods of rest or lower intensity movement. An example might be sprinting as fast as possible for 30 seconds followed by 90-120 seconds of walking. Usually, these types of workouts only last between 10-30 minutes. The benefits of HIIT make it attractive:
- HIIT burns lots of calories in a short amount of time
- HIIT raises your metabolism even after your workout, so you burn more calories throughout the day
- HIIT has cardiovascular benefits, including lowering heart rate and blood pressure
- HIIT may help lower blood sugar
For gleaning all of these benefits in a short period of time, HIIT seems like a no brainer for those wanting to maximize their workouts.
HIIT really constitutes a more advanced form of workout. In our sprinting/walking example; if you haven’t done any jogging, or extended walking, it probably isn’t a good idea to start sprinting. That is a quick way to injure yourself. The same goes for other forms of HIIT. Furthermore, if you do not already have some level cardiovascular shape, performing at full intensity for any period of time likely isn’t a good idea.
Of course, there are benefits associated with HIIT––otherwise there wouldn’t be so much emphasis placed on it or hype on the internet over the associated benefits. But exercise, like anything else, is a skill that requires cultivation, practice, and learning.
If you want to incorporate HIIT into your regimen but are just beginning, start with something as simple as walking. 30 minutes for 5 days a week of moderate-paced walking is enough to begin to reap the benefits. Gradually working up to something like HIIT is a much safer approach and ensure you are not going to participate in something that will set you back instead of move you forward.