No sweat: Does high-intensity interval training work?

No sweat: Does high-intensity interval training work?


Mark Cornelison/Lexington Herald-Leader By James Witts and Catherine de Lange Getting fit in 4 minutes: this is the promise of high-intensity interval training, marketed in gyms as HIIT. The idea was thought up by Izumi Tabata and a team of researchers from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Japan in the 1990s. Tabata showed that 4-minute workouts, comprising repeated cycles of 20 seconds of all-out work followed by 10 seconds of rest, done four days a week, brought greater aerobic improvements than an hour’s normal workout done five days a week for six weeks. But does it deliver the goods? “The answer to that is absolutely, definitely,” says sports scientist Chris Easton at the University of the West of Scotland, UK. “High-intensity training works: it’s been shown pretty consistently to make you fitter, make you healthier,” he says. That’s because pushing the body out of its comfort zone for short bursts forces it to adapt. The higher the intensity, the greater the adaptation, with benefits for your lungs, heart and circulation. “High blood flow through the heart, through the muscle, is the thing that causes those large changes in a short space of time,” says Easton. 45% of people cram all their weekly exercise into one day That’s not all. In a study published in 2017,
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