HIIT really is good for the Heart!
By Dr Jeremy Wright,
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) really is an excellent way to improve cardiorespiratory status. Studies in athletes and the general population have shown that increasing the intensity of exercise amplifies the training stimulus and associated adaptations, such as VO2max, anaerobic threshold, cardiac stroke volume and performance. In addition to inducing greater increases in cardiorespiratory fitness than moderate-intensity continuous exercise training (MICT), there is evidence that HIIT is even better than MICT at improving cardiovascular health.
Part of why HIIT is so effective is that it is all about intervals – switching between short bursts of high intensity exercise and moderate intensity effort. This is a great way to train the blood vessels and muscles of the heart to adapt and become more efficient in getting oxygen out to your muscles during exercise.
HIIT is also a very time-efficient way to exercise – you can get a lot of fitness and general health benefits with even just a short 15-20 minute burst of effort.
Of course, high intensity exercise is not for everyone and I would always encourage anyone starting out on a new fitness regime to check in with their doctor first. Also, if you are new to HIIT, remember to build up your intensity slowly and always listen to your body.
By Dr Jeremy Wright
MBBS (Hons) FRACP FCSANZ
Cardiologist, Hearts1st, Greenslopes Private Hospital
This is general information only. For detailed personal advice, you should see a qualified medical practitioner who knows your medical history.
- Laursen PB, Shing CM, Peake JM, et al. Influence of high-intensity interval training on adaptations in well-trained cyclists. Natl Str Cond Assoc 2005;19:527–33;
- Gibala MJ, Little JP, van Essen M, et al. Short-term sprint interval versus traditional endurance training: similar initial adaptations in human skeletal muscle and exercise performance. J Physiol 2006;575:901–11;
- Weston KS, Wisløff U, Coombes JS. High-intensity interval training in patients with lifestyle-induced cardiometabolic disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis, Br J Sports Med 2014;48: 1227–1234.