HIIT: Your Heart’s New Favorite Pastime

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JLP Staff

Health /

Your heart is the engine for your whole body. A strong heart can push you up the hiking trail, down the ski hill and keep you moving through all of life’s adventures.

It’s especially important for women to stay heart healthy, as heart disease happens to be the leading cause of death for women

The good news? Heart disease is completely preventable. 

One of the most powerful ways to keep that muscle pumping is through regular exercise. The catch is, you want to be sure you’re prioritizing exercises that strengthen your heart instead of strain it.

That’s where high intensity interval training comes in. High Intensity Interval Training has been trending more and more over the years as its countless health benefits are revealed. 

Not only will it help keep you looking great, but it can also strengthen the heart and all its functions, helping it fend off any looming potential for disease. 

Intrigued? We’ve got all the information you need about this trending workout method and why it’s all the rage.

What is High Intensity Interval Training?

High intensity interval training, or HIIT, is an exercise routine that involves spurts of fast, intense exercised between longer, slower periods of activity. 

Instead of your normal 1 hour jog on the treadmill, you would do a slow10 minute one with full speed sprints every 20-30 seconds.

What Are the Origins of HIIT?

HIIT originated in Scandinavia a few decades ago as a running method called “Speedplay.” 

It gained popularity in the US in the mid 2000’s when studies by Dr. Martin Gibala, chair of the Kinesiology department at McMaster University, proved high intensity interval training can produce the same physical benefits of regular workouts, in a fraction of the time. 

Is HIIT Safe at My Age?

If you think HIIT sounds like something better suited for your kids in high school or college, think again.

High intensity interval training has proven benefits for aging adults, including the reversal of age-related muscle deterioration!

Plus, HIIT doesn’t require any special equipment other than your basic weights or treadmill, and allows for you to make adjustments as needed. 

If your knees don’t allow for sprinting, for example, you could add the HIIT method to your push-ups instead. That means instead of doing your basic rhythmic count, you’ll do 5 slow push ups, speed up to as fast as yu can for about 15 seconds, then go back t your slower pace. 

HIIT is also compatible with other types of health issues, and has shown significant improvement in those with diabetes and heart disease.


What Does HIIT Do for the Heart?

High intensity interval training goes far beyond muscle building and fat burning. HIIT is a great way to make your heart beat stronger and longer:

Improves the Metabolism

  • An imbalanced metabolic system can cause Metabolic Syndrome, which can include high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and a concentration of body fat around your waist. 
  • People with Metabolic Syndrome are 3x more likely to suffer from heart disease thanks to the insulin resistance it causes. 
  • In a test done on 32 people in their 50’s with Metabolic Syndrome, those who participated in HIIT showed a 35% increase in aerobic fitness compared to a 16% increase in those who did continual moderate exercise. 
  • It was also shown to reduce the insulin resistance involved with Metabolic Syndrome, which decreased fat storage. 

Increases Circulation:

  • If you notice yourself running out of breath when you get to the top of the stairs, you may be experiencing the effects of poor circulation
  • High intensity interval training is also known to improve circulation.
  • Increased blood circulation helps cells grow and organs function properly, including that organ own as your heart. 
  • When your circulation increases, the heart muscles relax and lower your blood pressure. 

Lowers Cholesterol

Special Health Considerations Before Trying HIIT

It’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before changing up your work out’s. A few reasons your doctor may not approve of high intensity interval training are:

  • If you’re pregnant or 3-6 months into postpartum
  • If you’re injured
  • If you’re sick 
  • If you have a serious heart condition and have required recent surgeries
  • If you suffer from osteoporosis
  • If you have any form of incontinence or a weak pelvic floor

If none of these apply to you and your doctor gives the go-ahead, grab your water bottle and give the workout below a go!

Congratulations on becoming the newest member of the HIIT fan club! Give yourself a pat on the back for taking action and advocating for your health. 

Find out more about your risk of heart disease and how to prevent it with the heart health risk test >

Categories: Health
About The Author
Screen shot 2016 08 11 at 1.30.46 pm

Joan Lunden’s in-house research and writing team works with Joan to create content that complements her focuses and the interests of her fans. The team is dedicated to creating a thriving community through content and conversations, and hopes their work, like Joan’s, can make a difference in the lives of her readers everywhere.

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