We know that moving our bodies is essential for our cardiovascular and mental health and maintaining a healthy weight, but we often wonder how to get the most bang for our buck when it comes to time invested and results. While it depends on your goals, of course, researchers may have some insight on where your energy is best spent if you're looking to shed a few pounds.
In a new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers compared high-intensity interval training (HIIT)—a style of exercise that includes short bursts of high-cardio exercises like sprints and burpees with intermittent recovery periods—to more continuous workout approaches.
While they found both exercises reduced overall weight and percentage of body fat in participants, those who participated in HIIT workouts lost 28.5 percent more weight. This may be good news for those who are short on time as HIIT workouts can be as short as 12 minutes and often don't require equipment or a gym.
The study went a step further and found, in particular, sprint-interval training was the HIIT exercise most closely associated with weight loss as compared to continuous workouts. Don't worry if sprinting isn't your cup of tea, the researchers point out that they included a variety of HIIT exercises in their analysis, which means you'll receive similar benefits with other interval exercises.
We're big fans of HIIT workouts because they are easy to do at home, and once you get the hang of your favorite exercises, you can create your own routines. Experts suggest 20-second bursts are optimal (start with a smattering of burpees, squat jumps, step-ups, or mountain climbers), with twice the amount of recovery (so around 40 seconds), and you have yourself a DIY workout.
As with beginning any new exercise protocol or bumping up your frequency of activity, you'll want to consider integrating it into your routine slowly so your body can adjust. Once you incorporate HIIT into your workout regimen, you can look forward to benefits like increased longevity, improved heart health, and burning calories for hours after you exercise.
It's time to get moving and HIIT your goals; we're right there with you!
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Caroline Muggia has a B.A. in Environmental Studies & Psychology from Middlebury College. She received her E-RYT with Yoga Works and is a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. A writer and environmental advocate, she is passionate about helping people live healthier and more sustainable lives. You can usually find her drinking matcha or spending time by the ocean.