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May 9, 2012

4 Benefits of High Intensity Interval Training

Benefits of High Intensity Interval TrainingDo you want to achieve more in less time when it comes to your workouts?  Consider high intensity interval training (HIIT). You can incorporate HIIT into your existing exercise program.  High intensity interval training can be performed any number of ways using any number of exercise machines like treadmills, elliptical trainers, stationary bicycles, rowing machines, stair-climbers, etc. Once you realize the health benefits you’ll want to plan to add HIIT to your existing exercise routine.

What is High Intensity Interval Training?

High intensity interval training involves exercising at maximum or near maximum exertion for short periods usually 20 seconds to a minute followed by a rest period or lower intensity exertion and repeated several times.  Studies are showing that HIIT can deliver the same cardiovascular benefits in less time (if not better) as steady paced aerobic exercise done for longer periods (30 to 60 minutes).

4 Benefits of High Intensity Interval Training

  • Increased Metabolism
  • Improved Insulin Sensitivity
  • Enhanced Growth Hormone Production
  • Improved Nitric Oxide Production

Increased Metabolism

High intensity interval training stimulates a higher post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) than does steady-paced aerobics. This means HIIT  triggers a better after burn.  Following a session of HIIT your metabolism stays revved up higher longer than it would following steady paced aerobics.  You burn more calories throughout the day following HIIT.  This makes controlling or losing weight easier.

Improved Insulin Sensitivity

High intensity interval training is terrific for improving insulin sensitivity.  Insulin resistance is associated with diabetes and metabolic syndrome increasing the risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and obesity. What is not appreciated is that the muscle is the largest source of insulin receptors.  By exerting muscles at maximum or near maximum exertion induces metabolic changes and improves insulin sensitivity.  This means you need less insulin to move sugar from the blood to the tissues. Insulin is inflammatory and promotes fat gain.  So keeping insulin levels low is critical to great health.

Enhanced Growth Hormone Production

One of the main benefits of growth hormone is on body composition.  Studies show that growth hormone injections (in those growth hormone deficient) leads to a 14.4% decrease in body fat and a 8.8% increase in lean (muscle) mass – less fat, more muscle.  Growth hormone is released in response to vigorous exercise.  For this to occur exercise must be intense enough to break the anaerobic threshold.  High intensity interval training   breaks the anaerobic threshold.  Moderate to heavy strength training is another stimulus of growth hormone release.  By improving body composition the risk chronic disease goes down. Growth hormone is also a healing or rejuvenating hormone in adults, another reason increasing its natural production is healthy.

Improved Nitric Oxide Production

Nitric oxide is the simplest and probably the most important molecule in the body next to oxygen and water. Nitric oxide is a chemical mediator in the many biochemical reactions that take place in the body.  Nitric oxide is essential to cardiovascular health. It is likely that the quality of your health is directly related to your ability to produce nitric oxide. Nitric oxide can be increased by eating green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach, but it can also be increased with exercise.  Aerobic exercise will increase nitric oxide production, but HIIT performed at 90% of maximum heart rate is better at improving endothelial function and nitric oxide production.

So there you have it – 4 reasons to incorporate high intensity interval training into your exercise plan, program, or routine. Before you engage in HIIT be sure to be evaluated by a physician if you are over 40 and/or are at risk for heart disease.

See  related articles:

High Intensity Interval Training: Short and Sweet

Increasing Growth Hormone with Sprint 8

Fat Burning Exercises: High Intensity Interval Training

Boosting Nitric Oxide with Exercise

Natural Metabolism Boosters




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Dr. Joe Jacko

Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio at Grandview Primary Care. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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