Is HIIT Shifting Your Fitness Focus Down a Dangerous Path?

You may like the idea of improving your well-being and exercising more, but the prospect of a three-mile run may have you thinking again. However, a recent fitness trend has emerged in which you undertake workouts for as little as four minutes at a time, but still get the same wellness benefits of endurance training. So what’s the deal with this ultra-efficient exercise?


When you undertake high-intensity interval training (HIIT), you alternate periods of high-intensity activity with periods of low-intensity activity in order to get fit fast. According to UK surveys, the number one reason why people say they don’t exercise enough is because they don’t have enough time. However, not only is this new training trend a godsend for people with busy schedules (who doesn’t have four minutes to spare?) but HIIT has the science to back it up. Surely, then, it’s a no-brainer; you get the exercise and the health benefits you need, without the kerfuffle of finding the time to do it. Still, could HIIT be promoting exercise simply as a means to an end?


There are many studies which have shown how HIIT and endurance training produce the same main effects; muscle adaptations, help with aortic stiffness and increased insulin sensitivity. This means that one is just as effective as the other for preventing heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. However, the proliferation of HIIT-style training regimes has seen a shift in the fitness industry, with the focus being less on making exercise enjoyable, and more on getting away with the bare minimum. Instead of just getting it over with, surely exercise should be celebrated as part of a health lifestyle. Sure, you can’t get a tennis match over with in four minutes, but isn’t it more fun?


When it comes to sticking with an exercise programme, enjoyability is a crucial factor. Fitness experts will stress that you need to find a routine that works for you, rather than what’s popular at this present moment in time. Only YOU have to like it, only YOU have to stick with it for the long haul, so that it can make you, and you alone, physically and mentally healthy. This might mean undertaking HIIT training – some people do genuinely like getting a sweat on for four minutes – but if your preference lies in running marathons or playing football with your friends, don’t let “time” shift your focus away from what you want.


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