01 Apr High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
High intensity interval training which means doing bursts of activity at approximately 90% of your maximum heart rate has been more commonly practiced in recent times, and with good reason. The benefits on general health include increased VO2 max, improved insulin sensitivity, improved cholesterol profile, improved blood pressure, fat loss/weight management. A summary of some of the key benefits is below. My advice is that if you are used to exercising at a steady state, then mix it up with some intensity efforts in order to derive greater general health benefits.
From a health perspective this VO2max improvement is quite noteworthy, because LOW VO2max is predictive of cardiovascular fatalities and all-cause mortality (Kessler et al., 2012). As shown in the large, pioneering Cooper Institute study on the benefits of cardiovascular exercise, Steven Blair et al. (1996) completed medical exams and VO2max tests on 25,341 men and 7080 women. Data from this study clearly indicated that regardless if individuals were unhealthy or healthy, smokers or nonsmokers, had normative or elevated cholesterol levels, were obese or normal weights, all seemed to have enhanced cardioprotection (i.e., protection from factors associated with causing cardiovascular disease) for being moderately or highly fit compared as compared to low-fit men and women.
The most common adaptation from HIIT, and certainly highly significant is the improvement in VO2max which is directly related to enhanced cardiprotection from heart disease. Perhaps equally important to maximal aerobic capacity adaptations are the dramatic acute and chronic effects HIIT has on improving insulin sensitivity. The effects of HIIT on visceral fat and subcutaneous fat loss are encouraging. And, the impact of HIIT has on reducing systolic and diastolic blood pressure (when elevated) and improving HDL cholesterol is promising. The evidence is in, and it appears that HIIT is a metabolic health effects winner!