This is a cool trick that saves time, decreases the monotony of the pain of exercise, and may increase fat loss compared to exercising at a moderate intensity over longer periods of time, according to a recent review and meta-analysis in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (1,2). Interval training is pushing yourself to the almost max for short bursts, AKA short sprints during a run, AKA jump roping, AKA ‘all out,’ AKA feeling the burn.
More technically, interval training is an intermittent period of effort that is performed at a heart rate greater than 80% of your maximum possible heart rate or the equivalent as expressed in oxygen consumption, interspersed by recovery periods.
This kind of maximizing of stress on the system may lead to an adaptation of metabolic response that is bigger than regular exercise and may lead to more calorie burning between exercise bouts.
Generally speaking exercise is not an effective method of weight control or at least this has been an ongoing topic of controversy. And the guidelines from the believers in exercise as a method of weight control recommend high exercise volumes like 150–250 min/week, and up to 60 min/day, of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise to prevent weight gain or to reduce body mass a little bit (2–3 kg). More than an hour of exercise daily (>420 min/week) is recommended to lose more weight (5–7.5 kg). But few people manage to achieve these guidelines.
So the biggest plus for interval training would be that it takes less time. It also may work better even if you burn fewer calories than a longer moderate exercise regimen.
Finally don’t forget that, irrespective of weight loss, exercise is really good for you and you should try to do it more. Even old people and people with joint problems or heart disease can find a suitable interval training routine.
Just do it like they say in the Nike commercial.
1. Abbasi J. For fat burning, interval training beats continuous exercise. JAMA June 11, 2019;321(22):2151-2.
2. Viana RB, et al. Is interval training the magic bullet for fat loss? A systematic review and meta-analysis comparing moderate-intensity continuous training with high-intensity interval training (HIIT) British Journal of Sports Medicine 2019;53:655-664.
John DiTraglia M.D. is a Pediatrician in Portsmouth. He can be reached by e-mail- firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (740) 354-6605.