Monday, July 03, 2017

HIIT: An All-Purpose Training Program

As many of you already know, HIIT stands for high intensity interval training. HIIT is an exercise program where you alternately do short bursts of intense exercise with short periods of active recovery, such as slow-paced exercise. The activity pushes your heart rate up. At the same time, you are able to burn more calories in the process.

Since the 1990s various studies have been done comparing cardio workouts versus HIIT.  A study was done in Canada regarding the fat-loss effects of traditional cardio training versus high intensity interval training. While the traditional cardio regimen burned twice the amount of calories as HIIT, more body fat was lost by those who did interval training.

The continuing popularity of HIIT attracts many health buffs, body builders, athletes and even occasional exercisers. On their own, they find that HIIT is an all-around training program, for beginners and professionals. For the same reason, HIIT continues to be the subject of various researches, to determine its effects on people's health.

Benefits of HIIT workouts

1.  Promotes blood sugar regulation
HIIT helps reduce abdominal fat and lowers the level of sugar in your blood, thus it lowers the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Even a single HIIT session has the effect of modulating the increase in blood sugar after a meal, according to a research published in the Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism journal in July 2014. Research leader and author of the study, assistant professor Jonathan Little from The University of British Columbia Okanagan's School of Health and Exercise Sciences explained that the muscle fibers work hard when you do HIIT and after exercise, your muscles suck up the blood sugar.

It is for that same reason that HIIT is considered beneficial to people with Type 2 diabetes. In a study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology published in March 2017, Type 2 diabetics who underwent 12 weeks of HIIT through running or walking uphill, increased their aerobic capacity. Moreover they had significant reduction in their hemoglobin A1C levels, compared to those who performed moderate-intensity walking continuously for three months.

2.  Improves function of blood vessels

In the Sports Medicine May 2015 issue, there was a review of seven random trials, where they found out that vascular function improved in exercisers that performed HIIT three times a week for three to four months. The study results were very important because good vascular function promotes the relaxation of blood vessels. Prof. Little said that this helps regulate blood pressure, lowering the risk of heart attacks.

3.  Anti-ageing benefits

In a study published in Cell Metabolism (March 2017 issue), it was revealed that HIIT helps reverse the decline of muscles, thus it slows down the ageing of skeletal muscles. This is due to the increased production of protein for improved mitochondrial function, explains Mayo Clinic's Dr. K. Sreekumaran Nair, a professor of medicine and senior author of the study.

Aside from HIIT preserving more muscles and increasing the burning of fat, the exercise regimen also improves the production of HGH (human growth hormone) by more than 450% within the 24-hour period after the workout. This also helps your body to slow down the ageing process.

These are just some of the top reasons why HIIT has become a training program of choice by many athletes in all fields of sport, exercise enthusiasts and body builders. It has also been made more accessible to the public, with “consumer-facing” high intensity workout programs becoming more and more available for the masses.

The numerous studies that have been and continue to be done to assess the many benefits of high intensity interval training reveal that it's an all-around training program. It helps in losing body fat, regulating blood sugar levels, increasing metabolism and improving a person's endurance. HIIT makes you stronger and leaner faster compared to other slower cardio workouts. You also continue to burn calories after you've finished your workout, which is a major plus.

This is a guest blog entry.

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