Fitness experts and gyms have been highlighting the benefits of high intensity interval training (HIIT) for years now. Short, intense bursts of exercise have been lauded as the most efficient and effective way to get your fitness levels up and squeeze your workout into your weekly schedule. Why spend an hour on the treadmill if a 30 minute HIIT class gets the job done?
Even scientists have come out in favour of HIIT. Not only have studies shown that it can aid weight loss, but a small study revealed it could be more beneficial than traditional cardio exercise if you suffer with heart disease. One study by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology even suggested HIIT could help reduce arthritis aches and pain.
Of course, not everyone has been sold on the idea of intense bursts of exercise. In the past, Paddy Ekkekakis, a professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University has argued that HIIT can be so unenjoyable for some people, which puts them off exercising entirely. Ekkekakis argues that motivation is a key reason why a lot of people don’t workout regularly.
“The message of ‘squeezing it in’ perpetuates the idea that exercise is a chore. We want to break down the association of exercise as punishment, as something unpleasant, something to tolerate or a bitter pill you have to swallow,” Ekkekakis told Science Daily. “For example, instead of viewing a bike ride as exercise, we want people to think of it as a chance to enjoy the outdoors or to spend time with family.”
Researchers at the University of Sydney have a similar viewpoint and are now promoting high intensity incidental physical activity (HIIPA). The good news is that most of us do some form of HIIPA every day without realising it. Anything from walking up a flight of stairs to carrying your shopping across the supermarket car park constitutes as HIIPA.
“Regular incidental activity that gets you huffing and puffing even for a few seconds has great promise for health,” says Emmanuel Stamatakis, professor of physical activity, lifestyle and population health at the University of Sydney. “We know from several large studies of middle aged and older adults that doing vigorous exercise has great long-term health benefits, but many people find it very difficult to start and stick to an exercise program.”
Doing two or three bursts of HIIPA a day could be enough to keep you relatively healthy. Fitness expert and founder of AMP Athletic, Steve Mellor is equally as supportive of HIIPA. “Exercise is good in any capacity, we don’t need to go to the gym to do it and getting your heart rate up by going quicker on the stairs, on the street or in the park can be advantageous,” says Mellor. “For me this means increasing overall activity wherever you can through the day. For example; running upstairs, walking up-hill or playing with the kids.”
While the benefits of HIIPA have yet to be studied, it’s safe to say that you can expect to hear a lot more of the term. And, there are two very obvious upsides to HIIPA; it’s free and requires zero skill. What you save on your gym membership could be used for some post-workout pampering with the likes of Better You’s Magnesium Oil Original Flakes or Kneipp’s Arnica Joint & Muscle Massage Oil.