Short sharp bursts of exercise are no fad

·1-min read

Short bursts of intense exercise are not too good to be true when it comes to getting back into post COVID-19 lockdown shape.

And it can help build a stronger, healthier heart.

University of NSW Medicine exercise physiology researcher, Dr Andrew Keech, says high-intensity interval training, known as HIIT, is far from a celebrity fad.

Dr Keech has studied the science of exercise for 20 years and says HIIT is superior to traditional moderate-intensity training, like a long slow jog.

"HIIT is a fancy way of saying, 'work hard for a while, recover and then do it all again'. This is what athletes have been doing for many years," Dr Keech says.

He said research showed that HIIT was effective in improving aerobic fitness and conditions such as blood pressure, body fat levels and glucose control.

"Even if you rarely exercise, it's never too late to start doing HIIT," Dr Keech said.

"When you get fitter, you lower your risk of early mortality and this is especially important for those who have not exercised much in their life. You can get great benefit from starting regular exercise."

And for the busy and the time-poor, HIIT has an advantage in that it is quick when compared with a long, slow run.

"HIIT is not a passing fad - it is genuine intervention with a range of advantages over (continuous moderate intensity) training including time efficiency, enjoyment and the challenge of mastering a concentrated form of exercise."

Designing a program where you build up gradually with shorter bursts of exercise and longer rest periods helps for those who find exercise fatiguing and unappealing, he says.

"HIIT can encourage positive changes that improve health and ultimately, lower the risk of an early death."