HIIT—or high-intensity interval training—seems to be the workout style designed specifically to accommodate our modern-day hustling lives. In just 20 minutes of work, you can expect satisfyingly sweat-soaked gym attire and a healthy spike in your heart rate. But a brand-new paper published Saturday argues that you can reap the benefits of HIIT even when you’re not wearing your leggings with HIIPA.
High-intensity incidental physical activity or HIIPA is the stuff that you regularly do throughout the day that gets your heart rate up, but that you wouldn’t technically classify as “fitness” on its own. Think of it like this: Rather than (or in addition to) blocking off time in your Google Cal to head to the gym, you treat the quotidien strenuous activities you do—like walking up the stairs to work or vacuuming while dancing—as bite-sized servings of exercise. Then, you consider your “active recovery” whatever else is on your TDL for the day. In order to get the “best bang for buck for time unit”, as the researchers put it, attempt to do those everyday circuits at 80 percent or above your VO2max. So, instead of taking the escalator to the top floor at the mall, think about high-kneeing your way to the top. (But be safe, please!)
“Our paper, published today in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, shows this type of regular, incidental activity that gets you huffing and puffing is likely to produce health benefits, even if you do it in 30-second bursts, spread over the day,” writes Emmanuel Stamatakis, PhD, a lead researcher and professor at The University of Sydney School of Medicine in Quartzy. He adds that sprinkling in activities that share the principles of HIIT throughout the day helps to eliminate some of the most common barriers that keep people from working out on the reg, including the price point, time-restrictions, motivation, and skills.
The research’s findings comes on the heels of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion’s (ODPHP) new Physical Activity Guidelines, which were released late last year and preached a similar message. Namely, there’s no need to exercise for longer than 10-minutes at a time to reap all the benefits. “Exercise snacking,” or breaking your 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week into digestible chunks, meets the requirements, too. “Among a range of different regimens, we consistently see that any type of high-intensity interval training, irrespective of the number of repetitions, boosts fitness rapidly, and improves cardiovascular health and fitness,” agrees the study author.
“The same principle is at play with incidental physical activities. Even brief sessions of 20 seconds of stair-climbing (60 steps) repeated three times a day on three days per week over six weeks can lead to measurable improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness,” writes Stamatakis. “This type of fitness indicates how well the lungs, heart, and circulatory systems are working, and the higher it is, the lower the risk for future heart disease is.” (Um, I’ll consider that a small Monday win.)
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