HIIT-is it right for you?

Monday Lifestyle Education Discussion:
“HIIT-is it right for you?”
Exercise/Movement is the other half in the energy balance equation. Factors like sleep, stress, genetics, environment, etc certainly play a role, but the greatest impact comes from diet and exercise and those that are within your direct control. The ACSM recommends 30 mins of “moderate” intensity physical 5 days a week, or 20 mins of “vigorous” intensity physical activity 3 days a week. To measure intensity, you can use the talk test or you can directly measure your heart rate using a Fitbit or HR monitor.
-Moderate intensity is the point at which you feel slightly out of breath, but are still able to carry on a conversation. You may have a slight sweat. Measuring the heart rate, this would be about 50-70% of your maximum heart rate. Max Heart Rate is calculated as 220-age. So, for example a women who is 50 would have a MHR 170 beats per minute. Aiming for moderate intensity, she should be in the range of 85-119 bpm. Vigorous Intensity (perceived exertion as hard to very hard) could be targeted at 70-85% MHR. The 50 yr. old would aim for 119-145 bpm. And then there’s high intensity….

What is HIIT? It stands for High Intensity Interval Training. It is targeted at 80-95% of MHR and can be used to improve your aerobic and anaerobic fitness level, decrease blood pressure, improve insulin sensitivity, improve lipid profiles (Cholesterol), decrease abdominal obesity and to maintain or increase lean muscle tissue. You alternate between intervals of high intensity followed by active recovery phases. In essence, you get a lot of bang for your buck with HIIT because it can be a real time saver. In addition, people usually experience results which helps them to maintain motivation.

HIIT can be modified at the individual level based on injuries, conditions and fitness levels. If you are just starting out, walking for short distances may be your starting point and that is perfectly fine. Just keep doing this in order to build a habit. Build an aerobic base and then work from there to increase intensity and/or endurance. Applying HIIT principles, a person could walk for 2 minutes at moderate intensity, then jog for 1 minute. Alternate this cycle from 20-60 minutes or focus on distance. Apps such as C25K (couch to 5k) can help with a plan. It’s my responsibility to remind you to check with your health care provider before beginning a new exercise routine, but I should also remind you that NOT exercising is dangerous to your health. Find a group of people that you can maintain an active lifestyle with.

Thank you to Kaylan Gilliam who rocked the 6p class–that was too much fun! Thank you for leading.

About the Author
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Weight Loss Coach specializing in lifestyle transformation